Saturday, March 28, 2009

on the buses

Last week saw the first round of the Yarra Ranges Bus Services Review workshops conclude. With three workshops across the shire it was a busy time to get to all of them. I’ve already reported on the Yarra Junction workshop (see blog).

After Yarra Junction the next workshop was held in Upwey and very well attended, with representatives from across the community as well as the three secondary schools in the region.

Discussions were far ranging and there was some dissent about the statistics presented to the group as they were averages across the three municipalities of Yarra Ranges, Knox and Maroondah. For those living beyond the Urban Growth Boundary in Yarra Ranges the statistics presented were not a true or accurate representation of the services available.

There was a great consistency in the range of problems highlighted by the group covering issues such as:
Information about timetables, routes and cost of tickets
Poor connections with other services and rail
Coverage of services
Funding of public transport
Frequency of bus services
Span of hours of operation
Links to key centres including Belgrave and Knox City
Fares and the lack of one way or ‘short trip’ ticketing
Lack of services on the weekend
Lack of DDA compliant bus stops
More direct and frequent services to Knox City, Monash and Swinburne
More buses throughout the hills including a service to connect Olinda and Monbulk

The lack of timetable information at bus stops
The use of smaller buses
The use of more environmentally friendly buses
Telebuses for Belgrave
Footpaths to bus stops
The lack of route information for tourists
Bike storage on buses and at train stations
Improved safety
Eftpos availability on buses
Lack of parking at railway stations
Allowing pets on board
Better services to cover schools

With all the information collated and recorded results of the key issues were presented to the group, top 5 came in as:
34% Frequency of services
17% Network linkages
15% Span of hours of operation
10% Coverage of bus services
8% Connections to other bus and rail services

The Healesville workshop was not as well attended with a very small number of community members there, I think this is a reflection of the recent bushfire turmoil in the town as Healesville is generally a very active and involved community.

The discussions here were very similar with top five issues coming out as:
35% Frequency of services
27% Span of hours of operation
23% Connections to other bus and rail services
13% Footpath/bus stop infrastructure
2% Real time travel information

The consistency of responses across the shire is not surprising, time and time again frequency, span and coverage issues are raised with me. I will continue to advocate for improvements for our community, the benefits of a fast, frequent well connected public transport system are immense.

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