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Pallara’s population is booming but infrastructure is struggling to keep up

The Queensland Department of Transport and Brisbane City Council appear to have resolved a row over the installation of a new bus route in a booming south-west section of the capital.

Existing Route 126 (Sunnybank to Acacia Ridge) will be realigned and extended to run along Mains Road and also south to Ritchie Road, providing Pallara residents with a bus route to Sunnybank Plaza and CBD connections, or further south towards Heathwood.

But the timing of its installation was uncertain as the council wanted the state to fast-track the installation of the bus line with temporary bus shelters and stops, while TMR demanded the installation of at least six suitable permanent bus stops disabled people before the start of the line.

A letter from TMR to council transportation committee chairman Ryan Murphy was tabled at a House meeting this month offering to “correct the record” on discussions over the proposed bus route.

Pallara residents are frustrated with inadequate bus stops and potholed roads in their growing suburb.(Provided: Samantha Spaliviero)

In the letter, Transport Minister Mark Bailey wrote that Translink was backing a “second business case” for the bus service and was “ready to start services from June 27, 2022, but Brisbane City Council is required to install approximately 17 new or improved bus stops along the proposed route”.

Mr Bailey wrote that any bus stops installed had to meet federal accessibility requirements and comply with other Australian laws.

Algester MP Leeanne Enoch said the service depended on Brisbane City Council to provide “permanent and accessible bus shelters for commuters”.

Woman with blonde hair in black jacket
Cr Angela Owen says the state government has changed its mind about what is required for the installation of a bus stop in Pallara.(Provided: Brisbane City Council)

However, Calamvale Ward Councilor Angela Owen argued that the council had “submitted four business cases since March 2020 supporting the Pallara bus services case, but each was rejected”.

Cr Owen said TMR agreed to the provision of temporary bus stops along the route in February and March this year, but in April decided not to implement the service due to lack of permanent bus stops.

“The state government has found every excuse in the book to avoid funding the Pallara buses,” she said.

“I have also had engineers and council officers working with me to assess suitable locations for bus stops which can only be installed as local development progresses and the upgrading of Ritchie Road is delivered.”

White car near bus stop on Ritchies Rd, Pallara
Bus stops like these on Ritchies Rd, Pallara are about to be replaced.(Provided: Samantha Spaliviero)

But this week, Ms Enoch said locals would start noticing bus stop construction activity in the coming months.

“To provide the service, we needed Brisbane City Council to provide permanent, accessible bus shelters for commuters,” she said.

“The council has now agreed to deliver these bus stops so that we can continue to provide an extended 126 service.

“The new extended coverage area will mean that a large number of residents will now be within walking distance of public transport from their homes for the first time.

The council confirmed there was a “work plan towards six shutdowns which is now underway”.

Displaced suburb with neighborhood boundaries

Cr Owen said that since Pallara was part of her neighborhood, she had “helped secure a new school bus service, land for a new sports park, stormwater improvements, additional green space and funding to improve Ritchie Road for residents of Pallara”.

Steve Griffiths standing in a blue suit against a green background.
Pallara served in Cr Griffiths’ service for four years.(ABC News: Michael Lloyd)

The realignment of ward boundaries meant that Pallara was only part of the Calamvale ward in March 2020 and was in the Labor ward of Moorooka between 2016 and 2020.

Cr Steve Griffiths of Moorooka said that when the suburb was in his charge, he too “campaigned tirelessly on behalf of residents for basic services and suburban infrastructure”.

The council’s Labor opposition leader, Jared Cassidy, said “Pallara has quickly become one of Brisbane’s most neglected suburbs”.

“You can’t have bus services without first building bus stops and sidewalks and it’s this basic suburban infrastructure that NL Mayor Adrian Schrinner and NL Local Councilor Angela Owen have refused to provide the people of Pallara,” he said.

Pallara school population explosion

Pallara’s rapid growth has compounded enrollment pressure at Pallara Public School, where the student population has tripled in five years and is double its original capacity.

Sign at the front of Pallara State School
Enrollment exceeded expectations at Pallara State School.(Provided: Pallara Public School)

The school’s initial maximum capacity was 498 students, but enrollment has fallen from 317 in 2016 when it opened to 1,017 this year.

In a school report card sent to parents earlier this year, principal Mark Johnstone urged parents to drive safely and obey road traffic rules in the parking lot and around the school, after 80 police violations were reported. occurred in one week during the first trimester.

school building antenna
The Education Department has spent about $11.5 million to build a new three-story learning center at Pallara State School.(Supplied: Hutchinson Builders)

To meet growing demand for enrollment, the Department of Education has spent approximately $11.5 million on the construction of a new three-story learning center with 17 classrooms, which has opened. in early 2021, meaning the school now has a capacity of 1,260 students.

A Department of Education spokesperson said planning is underway, in consultation with the school, to support local enrollment growth.

Classroom with computers set up
The Department of Education says Pallara Public School did not need additional instructional resources to provide current services.(Provided: Pallara Public School)

“The school does not need additional substitute teachers to cover lessons, except when the tenured teachers are on leave.”

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