TIMETABLE cuts to a crucial Waterline bus service has left locals feeling further isolated in an area already struggling with a lack of public transport.
The Westernport Roadlines bus route between Coronet Bay and Grantville has been running six times a day since first introduced in 2009.
Customers were advised of timetable changes earlier this month, with the service effectively cut in half.
The changes were introduced last weekend, according to Public Transport Victoria (PTV), with just one pick-up service early in the morning, starting at 7.50am, and two return routes from 5pm.
The weekend timetable has also been slashed, with the bus running just twice daily, down from five times per day.
For residents like Corinella’s Michelle Pretty, who uses the feeder bus service to connect with V-Line buses in Grantville, the changes will make life difficult.
“It means that if I catch the bus early in the morning to go to an appointment in Grantville, I’m going to have to wait over eight hours just to get the bus back,” she said.
“I’ll now have to organise a lift every time I need to go out; I’ve always relied on that bus.”
Ms Pretty said the changes will have such an impact on her capability to get to appointments that she is considering moving.
“It’s not just me, I’ve spoken to several others in the area who rely on this bus,” she added.
Leadbeater ward councillor Clare Le Serve said she’s well aware of the issue and how residents in the area will be impacted.
“I have used this connecter bus service myself when I attend meetings in Melbourne and will continue to support it where possible,” she said.
“I hope others will also. We need access to public transport in this region.
“There are those in the community (who) will be affected, even if that is a small number.”
She said the council and local health organisations will need to work with individuals to link them up with appropriate community based transport.
“If locals know of anyone affected they should contact support services at Bass Coast Health, Bass Valley Community Centre or Bass Coast Shire Council,” she said.
Coronet Bay Residents and Ratepayers’ Association spokesman Barry Hutton said the group is “very concerned” by the changes, but remains hopeful a meeting with the responsible authority in the near future will “help flesh out a solution”.
“It is a service which is especially important for the disabled and elderly who need to travel to Grantville,” he said.
Not enough passengers
A PTV spokesperson said the Coronet Bay-Grantville bus service was last reviewed 12 months ago.
“The operator was advised they needed to implement patronage growth plans otherwise the service was in danger of being terminated,” the spokesperson said.
“Over the past 12 months patronage numbers did not increase therefore PTV reduced the timetable.”
“This service will now provide two return trips per weekday and one return trip on Saturday and Sunday.
“The reduced timetable will ensure that residents of Coronet Bay and Corinella have access to day return trips to Melbourne should they decide to take it up.”
The Sentinel-Times understands the service has recently operated with an average of less than one passenger per trip.
The PTV spokesperson said there had been no job cuts as a result of changes to the service.
Petitions, organised by concerned community members, are now being distributed throughout the area.
New transport services miss South Gippsland
VLINE released its new timetables on Sunday, but there was little to celebrate for the South and West Gippsland Transport Group (SWGTG).
Instead, the timetables focus on new train connections in the northwest of the state.
SWGTG has been lobbying for years to increase the number of buses traveling from Yarram, Inverloch and Cowes to transport hubs in Pakenham and Cranbourne and directly to the city.
An increase in bus services, and hence increases in bus users, strengthens the group’s lobbying to return passenger and freight rail to the district.
“We need a bare minimum of double the services,” public transport lobbyist and SWGTG deputy chair Max Semken said.
“We need that now on the South Gippsland service (Yarram to Melbourne), and it’s the same for Inverloch.
“The growth figures for Koo Wee Rup for 2031 say the population there’s going to be at 30,000 people; it’ll be a suburb of Melbourne.
“I’ve no doubt the figures are the same at Lang Lang as well.”
Mr Semken said with that growth will come jobs, jobs people would like to fill while living in South Gippsland.
The SWGTG is calling for 32 buses a day with buses along the South Gippsland route to connect in to Pakenham or Cranbourne, and buses from Inverloch to connect at Anderson (for travellers from Cowes) and then to Pakenham and Cranbourne.
Some of those buses, he said, could be express from Korumburra, or Anderson.
“Connecting to these major train lines gives flexibility to connect to other towns on the train route, like Warragul etc, that are also projecting major growth,” Mr Semken said.
Mr Semken said regular, reliable services would be attractive to business people who work in the growth areas, but want to live in beautiful South Gippsland and Bass Coast.
Mr Semken said the bus routes he and the SWGTG have developed would cater for 80,000 people south of the Princes Highway – already identified by the State Government as growth corridors.
The next meeting of the SWGTG, on tonight, Tuesday, June 23 at the Korumburra Top Pub, will discuss the new timetables, and upcoming transport survey meetings at Wonthaggi.