FREMANTLE’S free CAT bus service comes to an end this coming Saturday (September 30) after operating for more than 25 years and with plans for a pub or cafe crawl to mark its last circuit.
Patrons will now have to fork out $4 every time they make their way along South Terrace up to South Beach via the expanded Transperth 532 route.
The Chook took a ride on the CAT this week to see how people were reacting to the closure, and as expected there wasn’t a lot of love for Freo council’s decision from people like Lis and Graham Johnson.
“Now there is a payment, it is not going to suit everyone. Tourists will not want to come here anymore,” Mr Johnson said angrily.
“We have been catching the CAT now more than ever because it’s convenient and it’s here.
“Why wouldn’t you?”
“Our main concern is about this new replacement and if it will continue to make the same stops.”
His wife says the CATs have been a great service.
“People want to come down to the beach, especially in summer and this is exactly how they do it.”
Mr Johnson said he couldn’t understand why the CAT was axed, as he’d always found it packed when he jumped on.
“[Those] that have made this decision should actually come and see it for themselves.”
Lydia (she didn’t want her surname used) is one of the CAT’s colourful drivers, often seen in costume at Christmas and other notable days, and has a friendly rapport with passengers who regularly thank her for adding some happiness to their day as they jump on and off – and disappointment that she’s being replaced.
“I’ve been working on the CAT for eight years alongside my husband,” Lydia said.
“It’s coming to an end, and everyone who catches the bus is not happy.
“I will miss the people; I love them, and I love this job.
“I make sure I am there every morning to pick up my regulars to bring them to the station.
“This is more than a job,” she said.
Lydia said she is still hoping the service will “come back” saying axing it just before the busy summer is poor timing.
“Summertime is when it is really needed.”
Mr Johnsons agrees: “Now people will be forced to stand in the heat waiting for buses, no longer having the convenience of the CAT that does come every 15- 20 minutes,” he said.
The 532 bus will operate as normal until 8.55am when it switches to the CAT replacement service, with an hourly run down to Cockburn central and three short runs to Gold’s Gym on Hampton Road.
After 3.30pm it reverts to its usual runs all the way to Cockburn.
Transperth media manager Albina said the electronic screens on the front of the bus will let passengers know if they’re on the standard route to Cockburn Central or the shortened version.
by NEVE BRICKWOOD