SOUTH Gippsland residents took the opportunity to have their say on local public transport needs at a series of community drop in sessions last week, with wider reaching and more frequent bus services emerging as a priority for residents of Korumburra and surrounds.
Organised by the South Gippsland Shire Council, the sessions in Nyora, Tarwin Lower, Leongatha, Foster, Mirboo North and Korumburra invited community members to complete a written survey including questions such as ‘where do you need to travel to that you can’t access by public transport?’ and ‘what barriers do you face when trying to use public transport in South Gippsland?’
Council officers, including Economic Development coordinator Ken Fraser and Community Strengthening officer Ned Dennis were also on hand to discuss transport needs.
Mr Fraser said a wide variety of needs had been identified during the sessions but that most comments had focused on frequency of bus services and connections to existing bus services.
“People in Nyora seemed to be very happy with the VLine bus service but as you got further along the route towards Yarram, people were less happy with it,” Mr Fraser said.
“And then you have towns like Tarwin Lower and Mirboo North that have very different needs, so we heard very different responses there,” Mr Fraser said.
Mr Fraser said most of the sessions had been attended by an older demographic, but council hoped younger public transport users would take the opportunity to have their say via the online version of the survey, (available at www.oursay.org/southgippsland/SG-public-transport until Monday, August 13).
He said last Thursday’s session at Korumburra was one of the best attended, indicating “strong community interest” in the issue of public transport.
Several attendees of the Korumburra session expressed a desire to see train services from South Gippsland to Melbourne return, to relieve congestion on the roads, but added that this was an “unrealistic” expectation.
Other suggestions included secure parking at bus stops, a bus service or shuttle service for the township of Bena, and improvements to disability access.
Mr Fraser said council officers would collate information gathered at the sessions, as well as from the online survey, and present the findings to council in about a month’s time.
The council will then use the findings to lobby the State Government to improve services in South Gippsland.
Mr Fraser there was “potential” to introduce a local bus service for the towns of Leongatha and Korumburra, something local advocacy group the South and West Gippsland Transport Group is campaigning for.
“We want to have those discussions,” Mr Fraser said. “We’re looking at needs and we want to discuss solutions that fit those needs.”