A WARRAGUL man has joined with the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen to create a petition calling for better bus services in the region, vowing to keep pushing until the state government makes improvements.
First published in the 12 June 2015 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
Jim Chapman has been lobbying for service improvements for three years, but is yet to have any success with his approaches to both Liberal and Labor governments.
Warragul has a limited town bus service which runs between 09:15 and 14:45 on weekdays, while Drouin is the largest settlement in regional Victoria without a town service.
A review conducted in 2010 by the Department of Transport recommended a swathe of improvements, including commuter town services for both Warragul and Drouin. That review was shelved and was not responded to by the Brumby, Baillieu or Napthine governments.
Mr Chapman told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen services in Baw Baw were particularly bad when compared to those in Latrobe City, which has a regular town service.
“Back in 2010 when the review was done we had a population of around 14,000, which was far more than what Newborough (6,933) and [almost as much as Moe (15,292) had,” he said.
Mr Chapman said he knew many people from across the town who would use a full bus service, and with a growing population and new bus interchange at the Warragul railway station there was a need.
“It’s very important because we’ve got a bus service that runs about three trips a day to the hospital and back from the hospital,” he said.
“It’s just not sufficient. Nowhere near good enough.
“I live in a lifestyle village just down from the hospital. We’ve got over 300 people there and a lot of them don’t drive.
“They would use the bus service, and there’s also a village in Drouin. There’s plenty of need.
“People right up Stoddarts Road have asked me about the bus service and wanted a bus service, so it’s not just the hospital side of Warragul where we live, it’s all over Warragul that it’s needed.”
An online survey conducted in July last year by the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen found 96 per cent of 108 respondents thought the present bus service provision in Baw Baw was “Poor” (20 per cent) or “Abysmal” (76 per cent).
Mr Chapman said he had already conducted a petition covering his village, signed by over 80 people who would use a bus service that stopped at the village.
“A petition online is what I’m looking for now, which would cover the whole of Warragul, Drouin and the shire of Baw Baw.
“Everyone around us has a bus service, just not us.”
The Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen has previously called for improvements to bus services and has joined with Mr Chapman to launch that online petition. You can sign the petition calling for the adoption of the 2010 recommendations by clicking here.
Mr Chapman said recent meetings with local state Labor MP Harriet Shing had gone well.
“She’s going to look into it,” he said.
“She’s already spoken to the transport minister and it’s just a matter of waiting to see what eventuates from it.
“But I started this in 2012 and I’m going to keep going until it’s achieved.”
“From the beginning I’d been told everything had been approved, even a bus stop outside of our village, but it was to do with funding.
“We had Labor before Liberal, then we had Liberal which did nothing and now we have Labor again, so through Harriet Shing I’m hoping this time I can achieve something and get something done.”
Click here to read Ms Shing’s response.
Warragul Bus Lines general manager Philip Radford has also been lobbying for service improvements.
“Every second day someone’s ringing up about the town bus saying ‘well how do we get back?’ and we say ‘you can’t, you can catch a bus down the street and only have one option to come back,” he told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen last July.
Click here to sign the petition
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