Thousands of people have taken to social media to protest the cancellation of late-night train services from Perth, as the taxi council concedes the industry may be unable to cope during peak periods.
Transperth announced on Friday that it would axe the free weekend services from April because not enough people were using them.
But Australian Hotels Association (AHA) chief executive Bradley Woods has seized on the popularity of a Facebook site set up to save the services, which attracted thousands of followers in its first 24 hours.
“We have seen a huge groundswell of community concern,” Mr Woods said.
“There’s been no consultation, no discussion with the hospitality industry or the late-night entertainment industry.
“I think the public of Western Australia should be asking questions as to how this decision has been made.”
The trains run at 1:00am or 1:15am and 2:15am from five lines out of Perth.
Transperth spokesman David Hynes said the decision had been made to cancel them because only an average of 80 people were catching each train.
He said he was not concerned by the social media campaign.
“I’m pleased to see that there’s that many people who’re interested in public transport,” Mr Hynes said.
“If all the people that supported this Facebook page caught the trains, it would be a different matter.”
Mr Hynes said Transperth had not considered making the service a paid service to try to make it viable.
“If they’re not catching them when they are free, they’re not going to catch them when there’s a charge,” he said.
In 2011, a Facebook campaign, supported by 40,000 followers, prompted the State Government to introduce a new 4:00am service from Perth. It was later cancelled due to lack of patronage.
Those behind the latest campaign believe people power could help to overturn the decision.
“If Perth’s Facebook users unite again, we can tell the Government that we do want these services to remain.
“The Government has shown a willingness to listen in the past.
“We all know how much a taxi costs and how hard it is to get taxis at these busy times of night so we need an alternative option.”
Taxi industry concerned about high demand in peak periods
The Taxi Industry Forum, which represents drivers, agreed the loss of the late night trains could mean trouble.
Spokesman Howard Lance said the industry was concerned it would be inundated and unable to cope at peak periods.
“When we’ve got a whole lot of people competing for cabs at the same time, the drivers get frustrated, the passengers get frustrated and this leads to aggravation, leads to assaults and all sorts of things that we would rather avoid,” Mr Lance said.
The AHA wants the decision suspended until proper consultation is carried out.
“There just seems to be an anti-hospitality attitude by the WA Government at the moment without any consultation with the industry stakeholders,” Mr Woods said.
Transperth said cutting the service would save about $6 million over four years.