Route issues

LATROBE City Council’s efforts to improve the problematic Latrobe Valley Bus Lines’ routes continue, despite lack of cooperation from the State Transport Minister.

Council is taking further action after State Transport Minister Terry Mulder refused to release the 2009 Department of Transport review into Latrobe Valley bus routes, on which the new service is based.

In Monday night’s council meeting, councillors voted in favour of arranging a meeting with Public Transport Victoria Gippsland regional manager Wayne Berryman, State Member for Morwell Russell Northe and State Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood to discuss commuter concerns.

Latrobe City councillor Graeme Middlemiss said Mr Mulder’s response to council’s letter, requesting the release of research reports, as being “whitewash”.

“We have strong evidence the new bus routes are not adequate. They used a three year-old report; in my opinion it is outdated,” Cr Middlemiss said.

“The minister has failed… and he has not addressed any issues we have raised.”

Fellow councillor Darrell White said the 800 additional weekly bus services were a “gain” but some commuters had been disadvantaged by the changes.

“We haven’t come to the brick wall yet, we have got an expanded service, so from that point of view we have gains, but it is fair to say it needs tweaking,” Cr White said.

Mr Northe said further improvements to the services would be released in June and the government would continue to review the bus network. “The services do change constantly; my understanding is that since the new service has been introduced there has been some modifications,” Mr Northe said. He supported an evaluation of the new services but said council had been privy to community concerns since 2009.

“Council have been engaged in the process (since) way back in 2009, so one would have thought that they would be well informed of the issues and improvements that have been made since January,” he said.

He welcomed the meeting but suggested stakeholders, Department of Transport and Latrobe Valley Bus Lines, be invited. The Express attempted to phone Mr Mulder but he did not respond in time for publication