Disability CAT push

DISABILITY advocates have ramped up their campaign to save Fremantle’s CAT bus service, while the Herald has heard a “solution” from the state government might come within a week or so.

Susan Allwood and Steph Williams have developed a survey to gauge what people know about the CATs and how often they use them, and while it’s being delivered broadly, they say their own experiences trying to navigate Fremantle are an example of the hidden impacts of axing them.

Ms Williams is a carer for her sister, who cannot ride the bus without help, and neither have a car.

“I would use the CAT bus virtually every day for shopping and my sister’s appointments,” she said.

• Susan Allwood and Steph Williams are collecting information on people’s use of Freo’s CAT buses, but are urging the council to consider the impact on people with disabilities. Photo by Steve Grant


Ms Williams fears that once the CATs go at the beginning of September she’ll have to rely more heavily on taxis, adding a huge amount to her weekly bills.

Ms Allwood has multiple sclerosis and says she can’t walk on Fremantle’s footpaths because many are too uneven.

She doesn’t use the CATs much these days because of her limited mobility, but when she’d been working at the Fremantle Arts Centre she’d caught them nearly every day and even used them to run an art tour around the city.

“Otherwise there would have been all these people taking their car,” she said.

The centre manager was keen for her to develop the tours, but she said the disease had started to affect her and she had to abandon the idea. But she says it’s an opportunity to increase usage of the CATs, and could be a money-spinner to help subsidise their use.

Ms Allwood says after years of Fremantle council encouraging its residents to limit their car use, the end of the CAT bus service was a bitter pill.

“[Former mayor] Brad Pettitt, bless his little cotton socks, wanted us all to give up our cars and bicycle around town, and he had his e-bike and everything.

“And so people moved into Fremantle because the mayor was saying ‘let’s be environmentally sustainable’ and then the supermarket closed down, and Fremantle’s gone the other way, where now you need a car to get to the South Fremantle shops or Bunnings.”

Ms Williams said one of the surveys was filled in by a carer who uses the CAT bus to get her clients around the city, while others mentioned the importance of saving on petrol and parking fees and coming into Fremantle to visit friends and relatives.

Meanwhile the Chook heard from two sources that a “solution” from the Cook government was likely to be announced in the next week, though they were unable to release any details yet.


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