Monday, June 15, 2009

yarra ranges bus review - the next instalment

Today I attended two follow up workshops for the Yarra Ranges Bus Services review, one in Upwey, the other in Mooroolbark. These workshops enabled the consultants running the review (Booz & Co) to present Draft Network Improvements Options to the community for their consideration.
(for history on the Yarra Ranges Bus Services review visit this blog entry).
The removal of the 694 service from Sherbrooke Road is unacceptable. Low patronage has been given as a reason, but I suspect if frequencies were increased there would be greater take up of this service. One resident reported to me she often has to wait up to one hour in Belgrave to connect with this service. There is a direct correlation between the patronage of a service and the frequency in which it runs. We want more services in the hills not less.
At the Upwey workshop there were some excellent recommendations that were well accepted by community members, being:
The extension of the 695 route to Knox City (currently running Gembrook to Belgrave).
The extension of the 663 route so it would provide a direct service from Belgrave to Lilydale taking in Monbulk and the Swinburne campus in Lilydale.
A new service which runs from Boronia to Sassafras through to Olinda and onto Monbulk then Emerald, providing the much needed missing link between Monbulk and Olinda.
Changes to the 697 route that will see the service run through to Fountain Gate Shopping Centre rather than terminating in Belgrave South.

The change that met with disapproval and was of greatest disappoinment was the deletion of route 694 which currently runs from Belgrave to Olinda using Sherbrooke Road as its route from Monbulk Road to the Tourist Road. Later conversations I had with the consultants revealed they will re-look at this issue but I will be bringing it up with our local member as the loss of services in this area is of great concern.

More frequency and greater span of hours were seen as key issues in services across the Dandenongs.
Changes presented at the Mooroolbark workshop were generally received as positive moves, particularly the change to route 683A which will run via Clegg Road past the retirement village located there and also the proposal to increase peak services between Yarra Glen and the Lilydale Station. Many other options also presented in this workshop were seen as positive moves.

The span of hours of operation and frequency of services continue to be an issue raised across the board at both workshops. There are still two workshops to go, one in Yarra Junction tomorrow (1pm at the Upper Yarra Family Centre), the other in Healesville on Monday 22nd June at 1pm (Memo Hall).

If you're concerned about the bus services in Yarra Ranges and want to have your say I encourage you to go along to one of the remaining workshops.

From this round of workshops, Booz & Co will then refine the network improvements and provide a final report for consideration by the Department of Transport. However the consultant did make it clear that service improvements for Yarra Ranges would be implemented based on metropolitan priorities, lets hope that the Yarra Ranges does not get lost in a sea of competing priorities across Melbourne.

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