Some schoolchildren in the northern suburbs now take almost twice as long to get home each afternoon under the new train timetable.
Even before it came into effect on Sunday, the new timetable was criticised by commuters in the northern suburbs for the reduction in local services.
Yesterday has also shown a flaw in the timetable for schoolchildren who travel to out-of-area schools, such as Catholic or selective schools, and rely on the local trains to get home.
Karina and Jason Welsh live just a few hundred metres from Woonona station and their son Hayden catches the train to and from Edmund Rice College every day.
School finishes at 2.05pm and the old timetable would have Hayden home by 2.40pm – a door-to-door time of 35 minutes.
Ms Welsh said the new timetable meant her son would have to wait at Wollongong station for the 3.10pm train and not get home until 3.26pm – 81 minutes after school finished.
The new timetable has an earlier train Hayden could catch – the 2.35pm from Wollongong – but his parents feel that isn’t suitable because it requires changing trains at Thirroul.
If he were to catch that train he would arrive home at 3.06pm – which is almost double the time it took under the old timetable.
Ms Welsh said a change in the trains was required.
‘‘For us, maybe we don’t have the limited-stops trains, we have more all-stops,’’ Ms Welsh said.
‘‘But that slows the commute to Sydney so someone’s not going to be happy. I just don’t particularly like my 13-year-old child hanging at Wollongong station for 50 minutes when they could be at home.’’
Karen Moreira also lives in Woonona and sends her son Brad to Illawarra Sports High School.
With school finishing at 2.45pm, Brad used to catch the 3pm train at Unanderra. He would arrive at Woonona at 3.22pm – 37 minutes after school let out.
Ms Moreira had initially feared her son’s trip home would take 98 minutes – including half-hour waits at both Unanderra and Wollongong stations.
However a spokesman for Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian highlighted a shorter route that would involve changing trains at Thirroul and arriving at Woonona station at 4.03pm.
However that would still see Brad arriving home 78 minutes after school finished – 41 minutes later than under the old timetable.
‘‘You’ve got to go all the way past your station and then come back to it,’’ Ms Moreira said of the new need to change trains.
‘‘It just doesn’t make sense.’’
While unhappy about the timetable changes, Ms Moreira said it was only fair the government relaxed the limits on destinations on school travel passes, which at present are restricted to stops nearest the student’s home and school.
‘‘The timetable was changed three-quarters of the way through the school year, not at the beginning of the year,’’ she said.
‘‘We filled in the forms for those passes at the beginning of the year based on the train timetable at the beginning of the year. Now it’s been changed in the fourth term.’’
Keira MP Ryan Park said the timetabling problems for school students only surfaced recently.
‘‘It’s been a sleeper issue and it hasn’t come to light given that it’s recently been school holidays,’’ said Mr Park.
He said he had written to Ms Berejiklian seeking a meeting with the aim of making ‘‘minor adjustments’’ to the new timetable.
‘‘That may be minor tweaks to the timetable or we may have a situation where these students are allowed to have greater flexibility in the school travel pass system.’’
Transport Minister Ms Berejiklian said it wasn’t possible to create an ideal service for everyone.
‘‘The 2013 timetable provides significant improvements which benefit the majority of South Coast Line customers,’’ Ms Berejiklian said.
‘‘However it is impossible to provide a door-to-door service for everyone.’’
She also said that in the development of the timetable, Transport for NSW ‘‘considered the specific requirements of schools relative to the overall transport requirements of the region and the needs of the majority’’.
On the subject of flexibility with free school travel passes, a Transport for NSW spokesman said there were no plans to change it ‘‘to provide students with transport other than between school and home’’.