Saturday, 24 February 2007

Hope for a Venus Bay & Tarwin Lower Bus Service

Article from the Star News Leongatha:

"Buses to ease isolation"

Buses were the main focus when South Gippslanders brainstormed transport solutions for the region at a meeting in Memorial Hall, Leongatha,on Thursday evening.

About 80 people attended and rose to the challenge with ideas ranging from making it easier for residents of outlying towns to visit Melbourne, to helping isolated elderly people get to a doctor's appointment.

The ideas will be collated and form part of an application to the State Government for funding under the transport connections program.

This program attempts to help communities create "bottom-up" solutions to their transport problems using negligible new resources rather than big budget infrastructure or commuter services.

South Gippsland shire has already submitted an expression of interest for the program, which was positively received by the department of Victorian communities.

If the application is successful a transport connections coordinator will be appointed for three years and a steering committee formed, which will look at ways to use existing transport resources to increase "social transit" in the shire.

An announcement on the application's success is expected in April.

Issues relating to trains returning to South Gippsland did not form part of the discussion except for a momentary verbal lapse by a state government bureaucrat, which drew laughs from the audience.

"People expected more about the rail but it was always about the transport connections program," Cr Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks said.

"There would need to be another meeting to discuss that issue."

The meeting was attended by Member for Gippsland South: Peter Ryan, councillors, South Gippsland shire staff, bus operators, transport lobbyists and residents.

It included a presentation by John Sanderson who steered the Bass Coast transport connections program, which began three years ago, followed by the brainstorming session.

Suggestions at the meeting included:

• V/Line bus services stopping in Bena.

• Irregular services to take people to special events like the Mossvale park music festival and water sports.

• Community buses for outlying areas like Hallston, Allambee, Venus Bay, Fish Creek and Tarwin Lower.

• A summer bus that stops at the Poowong pool.

• Feeder transport to and from towns such as Sandy Point, Tarwin Lower, Venus Bay to the V/Line buses.

• A link between Foster and Tidal River. Foster bus operator, Alex Moon said he has seen young adult tourists attempting to hitchhike to the Prom because they expected a bus from Foster to the Prom.

• Seniors transport from Dumbalk to Leongatha, and the bus travelling from Wonthaggi to Morwell to stop in Dumbalk.

School buses bringing adults into major towns to connect with other buses.

• Fixing the public transport black holes of Toora and Welshpool.

• Business groups supporting transport, to attract customers to their shops.

Other discussion points included the likelihood that transporting people to medical services in the Latrobe Valley would become more important with an aging population. Also, an increasing social dislocation caused by many scattered small and medium sized towns, needs to be addressed; and thought should be given to the need for inter-regional transport services rather than Melbourne-centric transport.


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