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Call to increase minimum bus levels

Bus interchange, FootscrayThe Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has called for an increase to the Brumby Government “Minimum Service Standards” for bus services in Metropolitan Melbourne, and called for the same standard to be introduced into Victoria’s major regional cities.

The program, introduced in 2006, set a minimum benchmark of an hourly bus service until 9pm, and was a step forward in addressing a long-term problem with Melbourne’s inadequate, dysfunctional bus network, resulting in patronage growth across the network.

“The introduction of services at night and on Sundays was revolutionary for Melbourne, yet sadly still lacks behind many other cities around Australia and the world. Moving to half-hourly services seven-days-a-week between 7am and 9pm would not require a single extra bus, yet would provide enormous benefits for people to attend work, retail, leisure, health and other activities,” said PTUA President Daniel Bowen.

The PTUA, in its recent policy document ‘Every 10 Minutes to Everywhere’ outlined the importance of providing fast, frequent and reliable services for all in the community, and sees the improvement of local bus services as a key to achieving this.

“The minimum bus standards should be seen as just that – the minimum benchmark, not the final level of service we are aiming to achieve. These standards should be seen within a holistic approach of providing proper public transport and an alternative to driving on our ever-clogging roads. Our local buses connect with shopping centres, railway stations and other high-frequency public transport services, but can be done much better,” Mr. Bowen said.

Current Levels PTUA Proposal
Weekdays hourly (many run half-hourly) half-hourly
Saturdays hourly half-hourly
Sundays hourly half-hourly

The PTUA believes the minimum service provisions applied in Melbourne should also be extended to Victoria’s major provincial cities: Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Warrnambool, Mildura, Shepparton, Albury-Wodonga, and the Latrobe Valley (Moe, Morwell and Traralgon). Presently, many of these cities have bus services which do not adequately serve the needs of their communities due to poor operating hours or frequencies.

“Why should residents of regional cities not be entitled to the same level of service as their Melbourne counterparts? With Government investment being made into regional Victoria, and the recent introduction of Regional Fast Rail providing hourly services to many of the above cities, it is time we have one consistent policy across the state,” concluded Mr Bowen.