The issue of crowded buses and slow travel time on the 903 Smartbus, which runs from Mordialloc to Altona, has been raised recently in parliament on two separate occasions. Liberal MP Andrea Coote and Greens MP Susan Pennicuik have both criticised the unsatisfactory situation first brought to the public’s attention by the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA).
“It’s good to see some of our parliamentarians giving publicity to this issue,” said Jeremy Lunn, the PTUA’s Outer East Convenor, “but what we need is prompt action from the government to fix up the problems.”
The issue has been covered in the media numerous times since it was first pointed out by the PTUA. Photos taken by the PTUA clearly show the crowding that is common place on the 903 Smartbus near Chadstone Shopping Centre.
“We’ve made numerous calls for an urgent upgrade to the service,” Mr Lunn said, “because there are far too many overcrowded buses.”
The PTUA is calling for an immediate improvement in weekend services to run every 15 minutes, followed, within the next two years, by an increase to every 10 minutes, seven days-a-week.
“This would not only relieve crowding, but it would also fix the confusing Saturday timetable which operates like a 15 minute service with a half-hour gap each hour,” Mr Lunn said. “It is clear that an upgraded service would attract more passengers, because they would no longer have to waste an exorbitant amount of time waiting for a bus.”
“We’re confident that the government will have to respond to the pressure and run more buses. However it must be done properly, by upgrading buses from at least Heidelberg to Mordialloc, rather than some kind of ‘band aid’ solution.”
Mr Lunn noted that the section between Holmesglen and Oakleigh must be one of the slowest bus routes in Melbourne, but it remains to be seen whether there will be any attempt to establish much-needed bus priority. Passengers travelling the 3km stretch from Holmesglen to Oakleigh face a particularly painstaking slow journey at an effective speed of 8.57km/h.
He said bus passengers would be very disappointed to hear that VicRoads has told the PTUA that there are currently no current plans to allow an improvement in bus travel times in the area.
“To ensure increased bus services and decreased travel times, bus-only lanes have to be installed on strategic roads near Chadstone, and traffic light priority established at major intersections in the area,” Mr Lunn said.
“It is vital that problems such as these are fixed if Melbourne is going to move into the 21st century. Melbourne can hardly be seen as a modern city when riding a horse would provide a faster trip than some of these buses. With over 2.5 million trips to Chadstone by bus each year, it is time to make buses a high priority.”
The PTUA has a Facebook group ‘Better Public Transport to Chadstone’, for members of the public to voice their concerns about transport to Chadstone: www.chadstonept.info