Liquor traders, police, council back midnight bus

MIDNIGHT BUS: Constable Sally Halliday from Margaret River police, shire acting senior community development officer Gene Hardy, bus driver Daniel Shurmer, and Rob Gough from Settlers Tavern with the Chauffeur Bus that now also helps get people home safely after a night out on Fridays and Saturdays.
MIDNIGHT BUS: Constable Sally Halliday from Margaret River police, shire acting senior community development officer Gene Hardy, bus driver Daniel Shurmer, and Rob Gough from Settlers Tavern with the Chauffeur Bus that now also helps get people home safely after a night out on Fridays and Saturdays.

POLICE, the shire council and business members of the Margaret River liquor accord have come out in support of a midnight bus service to get people home safely after a few drinks on Friday and Saturday nights.

They took the unusual step last week of promoting the service provided by The Chauffeur Bus since Easter, to encourage people to use it rather than attempting to drive after drinking.

Senior Constable Jim Armstrong from Margaret River police said the concept of the night bus was raised through the local liquor accord – a group liquor industry traders including Settlers Tavern, Margaret River Hotel, Knights Inn, Margaret River District Club, the local football club, Must Wine Bar and Wino’s, and the police, the shire council and Health WA through the South West Alcohol and Drug Office.

“The local liquor industry, and in particular Rob Gough of Settlers Tavern, are to be congratulated for their proactive approach to the responsible service of alcohol in Margaret River and helping everybody get home safely after a night out at their venues,” Senior Constable Armstrong said.

“Margaret River police and the liquor accord encourage the public to make use of the service as continued usage will ensure its on-going viability.”

Since Easter the distinctive double-decker Chauffeur Bus has parked on the main street opposite Settlers Tavern on a Friday and Saturday night to collect passengers, leaving at 12.15am on a route that takes in Rapids Landing, Brookfield Estate, Prevelly and Gnarabup.

Passengers pay a flat $10 fare and can get off anywhere along the route.

So far the bus has always run with some passengers on board, but the service has not yet attracted a regular clientele and police and accord members believe more patrons should be using it rather than risking driving home.

“The Margaret River Police place a strong emphasis on targeting alcohol-impaired drivers and this service provides an excellent alternative to get home without jeopardising your lives and drivers licenses,” Senior Constable Armstrong said.

“All of the recent local fatal crashes involved alcohol of some degree and on a regional WA basis, alcohol and/or excessive speed featured in 45 per cent of all serious or fatal crashes.

“Please remember that in a small town, other than yourself, the people you may hurt or kill are likely to be known to you personally. Such crashes have a huge negative impact on our community,” he said.

Senior Constable Armstrong said the concept had received favourable comments from the public and accord members.

Accord member Rob Gough said he hoped the night bus would prevent both “anti-social behaviour” in main street after venues closed and drink driving.

John Green of The Chauffeur Bus said he expected more people to use the service as they became aware of it and as winter sets in and walking home becomes an uncomfortable option in the cold and damp.

“It’s just taking a bit of time to raise awareness (of the service). The night bus will make it easier for people to plan a night out on a Friday or Saturday because they have an alternative means of getting home,” he said.

Mr Green said if the existing service was well patronised and there appeared a need for it, he would consider adding an earlier night bus service.

For information or suggestions on the service, contact Meg or John at The Chauffeur Bus on 0437 770 564 or Gene Hardy at Augusta-Margaret River Shire Council on 9780 5241.