LIFE begins at 40—unless you’re the Wellington Street bus station.
The WA government has announced demolition of the station, opened by Labor’s John Tonkin in 1973, will start next month.
It will be replaced by the new underground Perth Busport, scheduled for completion in 2016.
The old station was designed to be a central hub for buses servicing Perth’s north, slashing the number of small termini across the city.
Without ever reaching iconic status, the prosaic station was state-of-the-art in 1973, and bus enthusiasts still drool over the stylish “Clipper” buses.
The yellow city clipper, Perth’s first free service, rolled out of the station in September, 1973.
It ran every 10 minutes during the week and looped round the city, including stops at William and Barrack streets.
At the weekend it only ran on Saturday mornings, because Perth shops closed at noon and did not open Sundays.
WA bus preservation society member Nicholas Pusenjak says most Clipper buses were top of the line.
“It’s funny because they used the flagship buses as Clippers, but they only did a small loop of Perth, while the older buses were going longer distances—it used to annoy the drivers,” he laughs.
“Aside from an old Daimler Roadliner, all the Clippers were top of the range.
Businesses at the station have also been moved out, with some finding it difficult to find new premises because of high rents, says cafe owner Anne Greives.
Transperth had frozen their rent over several years but now they’d have to survive without subsidy.
While Ms Greives was happy to head into retirement, given she’s 84 years old and had been there neary 20 years, she’d had to lay of three employees.
“When I was packing up my things yesterday, all the bus drivers were coming up to me and hugging me, wishing me luck and saying ‘now what will do without our coffee lady’,” Ms Greives said.
Staffer Trish Hardman said she’d only heard rumours about the demolition and would be out job hunting now Christmas had passed.
The station was well patronised, although use of public transport in the 1970s was relatively low compared to today.
Bus passengers will be relocated to a temporary bus station from January 12.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK
and KYFFIN HAMMOND-CHATE