Geelong bus crisis ignored in budget

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) today called the State Budget a `grave disappointment’ for Geelong, with no new measures to halt the drop in patronage on Geelong’s urban buses.

Geelong Branch spokesman Paul Westcott said that the budget mainly re-announced measures already promised before last year’s election, and did nothing to tackle the crisis in Geelong’s public transport. “Although public transport patronage in Melbourne, Ballarat and Bendigo is rising strongly, the government’s own figures show that bus patronage in and around Geelong is declining.”

“This fall in local public transport use comes despite the rise in petrol prices, and concerns about pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and car dependency.”

Mr Westcott said the region’s buses needed a proper plan and sufficient funding to turn the worrying trend around.

“The government still doesn’t seem to understand that buses in the Geelong region just don’t run often enough to allow people to leave their cars at home. Current service levels are clearly insufficient and insulting to bus users.”

He also called for plan to simplify indirect and confusing bus routes, and to return promised bus stops to Geelong’s city centre.

“The people of Geelong were promised that when the Moorabool Street road works were finished, the bus stops scattered all around the CBD would be re-amalgamated, but not even a plan has yet been produced.”

“It’s little wonder that the vast majority of people continue to drive, causing congestion on our roads and parking problems in the city, because there is no viable alternative to driving,” said Mr. Westcott.

Mr Westcott did, however, welcome the new commitment to buy land around the Geelong Railway Station and improve links to the waterfront and other parts of the city centre. He said this could allow the introduction of a bus exit from the station to Mercer and Brougham Streets, which could simplify bus movements to and from the station, and improve services to the surrounding area.

Contact the PTUA