Thursday, July 09, 2009

where did route 694 go?

Is it right that the community has to wait till the end of the year to know the fate of route 694? NO. At the recent bus review this service was proposed to be deleted due to lack of patronage.

If we had a service that was frequent and well connected the patronage numbers would be much higher. This route provides a key orbital link between Belgrave and Olinda, to suggest that in the future Belgrave commuters travel to Olinda via Upper Ferntree Gully defies any logic and makes for a very cumbersome journey.

I read in the local papers that one girl cried to learn that her only access to public transport was to be taken away. These decisions have long lasting significant effects on our local community and their ability to fully participate in society.

What happens to those who have limited transport options? How do they get to school, to work, to medical appointments, to shops, to socialise? It is unacceptable to lose this service in the Dandenongs.

At a time when we should be encouraging take up of public transport this mooted ‘improvement’ seeks to turn even more people off using public transport.

Why should we be denied access to fast, frequent and well connected public transport? I want to see serious investment in our bus services, not juggling the books of the current budget which will never deliver significant improvements to services in the hills.

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At 3:49 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Samantha,

>>> Route 694 is positive for local Tourism <<<<

I am not sure where things are at with the route 694 bus issue & what has been discussed regarding the pro's and con's for its continuation (I have just become aware of the issue), however from my personal perspective I would like to identify the potential it provides for tourism in the local area.

I have a parks background, and have a reasonable knowledge of the plants and animals in the Dandenongs from working in it in the past. I find the area's mix of nature, history & culture fascinating. Also it is extremely rare to find a place in the world where the modern day metropolis & nature live together so closely, offering a rich nature based experience on the door step of such a wide ranging amenity base (shops, cafes, accommodation, etc).

Even though I don't live in the Dandenongs (I live in Reservoir) I still appreciate its rich value and the opportunities it presents for tourism,... So much so I have just set up a 'green' day-tour to the Dandenongs using public train & bus!

My target market are socially aware international & interstate tourists to Melbourne who have a 'bent' for nature.

Route 694 forms a key part of my tour up the mountain from and to Belgrave. Unlike other tours to the area, with route 694 I can offer a 'hop on, hop off' transport experience with a large component of bush walking not being limited by proximity to the nearest park car park. In addition it’s great to think that by using public transport I am doing my bit for the environment taking one more vehicle (& the consequent emissions) off the road.

Then obviously, beyond my tour there is an opportunity for tourists & day trippers to find their own way through the Dandenongs using public transport, bringing additional tourist dollars aiding local jobs.

I can understand transport operators or authorities not wanting to run a service which attracts limited use. However I urge the powers that be to consider what could be the lost opportunities for local tourism. In this way route 694 is not only a community service obligation provided for local residents to use, but a tourism enabler. Furthermore I don't disagree that the Dandenongs bus service could be promoted in that way, obviously I am happy to help! :) .

On the back of everything that has worked against local tourism recently (GFC, Fires, Swine-Flu,) it would be nice if this issue could go the local tourism industry's way?

Yours sincerely,

Mark Crosher
Melbourne Forest Tours
Parks Buddy

At 9:52 PM, Blogger Samantha Dunn said...

Thanks for your comments Mark. A local resident who is a regular user of Route 694 contacted me last week to report in on the usage of this service. On board were 15 Japanese tourists who got off the bus at Sassfras and 2 Chinese tourists who got off at Olinda. This is a great service for tourists and locals alike and we have to do all we can to ensure it is not deleted from service. I will forward your comments to the shire but it's worth your while contacting the local MP too, James Merlino MP.


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