FREMANTLE council is poised to pull the pin on its CAT buses, while trying to find a private operator for a hop-on/hop-off service for tourists.
The council’s finance and policy committee on Wednesday night voted to stop funding its 60 per cent contribution to the CATs from the end of June, which will almost certainly see the Public Transport Authority cancel them altogether.
Mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge said it was clear a lot of locals were using the bus for public transport reasons, such as getting their kids to school, but it had originally been devised as a way of moving tourists between the city’s attractions.
“The CAT bus is hard,” she said of the decision to stop funding the service, “but when you boil it down to public transport, it makes it easier.”
Ms Fitzhardinge said if the council ratifies the committee’s decision in two weeks, she and CEO Glen Dougall were ready to talk to the PTA about making sure standard buses covered South Fremantle better.
The mayor said the council believed shutting down
the service would create an opening for a private operator to offer a hop on/hop off bus service for tourists linking entry points to the city such as the train station and car parks, to major destinations such as the prison, arts centre and Victoria Quay.
The council has explored special rates for people living near the CAT routes, introducing fares and funding it through extended paid parking since it scaled back the service during Covid, but Cr Fedele Camarda said nothing stacked up.
“We have explored every option, and it’s just not viable in its current format.”
South Fremantle precinct convenor Gina Blakemore said locals who turned up to this week’s meeting were dead against axing the CATs.
“The CAT bus is 25 years old and it makes Fremantle unique,” Ms Blakemore said, adding that its removal could have a major impact on some people’s ability to move around the city for basic necessities.
“If you can walk 20 minutes it’s ok, but for elderly people … this will be life-changing,” she said.