A COMMUNITY workshop held in Warragul heard the public transport needs of the Baw Baw Shire.
First published in the 26 June 2015 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen. All dates relative to then.
Around 40 people attended the Public Transport Victoria-run forum at Warragul Station, where they were divided into groups to list positives and negatives about public transport in the region.
Groups were given a sheet of butcher’s paper and a stack of sticky notes to write issues down on. They were asked to then stick what they thought worked well on the left of the page and what did not on the right.
One group needed a separate sheet to fit all their complaints on.
Rail dominated discussion. Issues identified included unclear information boards for Gippsland commuters at Flinders Street station in Melbourne, late-arriving trains due to slow suburban services blocking tracks, bad on-train toilet facilities for disabled people and a lack of late night services.
Bus services were also identified as a key issue. One community member said bus services were “totally inadequate.”
The workshop was organised at short notice as part of the state government’s Regional Network Development Plan. The plan, which will be presented to the transport minister later this year for release next year, will identify issues facing public transport now and into the future.
A PTV spokesperson asked workshop attendees to consider their needs into the next 5-20 years, as well as what they needed now.
“This is a plan that, at this stage, is going to have up to four stages, each about five years long,” the PTV spokesperson said.
“It is about understanding needs.”
The spokesperson said Baw Baw was expected to grow by over 70 per cent over the next 20 years, making future considerations important.
“Nobody wants the regions to become like Melbourne with their [road] congestion,” the spokesperson said.
“This is about sustainable growth, lifestyle preservation and finding alternatives to people using cars.”
The spokesperson said 306 people in the Latrobe Valley used the bus network every day, while 18,204 used cars.
“We want to see those numbers even out a bit,” the spokesperson said.
“It’s not just about commuters and people who need to get to the hospital, this is about a system for everybody.”
Baw Baw’s bus services are severely limited, with no commuter bus service in Drouin and only a midday town service in Warragul. Outer regions have very little service.
People who attended the meeting – which included the general public as well as Warragul Bus Lines chief Phil Radford, Baw Baw staff and councillors, one Cardinia Shire councillor, federal Labor candidate Chris Buckingham and a representative for Narracan MP Gary Blackwood – seemed satisfied by the process.
One attendee told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen “it… allowed everyone to personally have their say via the written avenue as well as being able to tease out consensus about the big issues via the group discussions.”
“Hopefully it leads to positive change.”
Warragul man Jim Chapman has been campaigning for better bus services in Baw Baw for several years and recently joined with the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen to start a petition calling for the shelved 2010 plan to improve services to be adopted.
You can sign the petition online via goo.gl/8FrCep.
Mr Chapman was feeling positive after attending Tuesday’s meeting.
“I was relieved to find that the budget [for improvements] hasn’t been spent yet,” he said.
“We have to go through this process and hopefully soon we will get some funding for our bus services.”
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