More bus services needed

A Gippsland transport group is lobbying the State Government for increased bus services from Traralgon to Sale to better connect Gippslanders.

South West Gippsland Transport Group committee member Max Semken said the number of services between two regional cities and the smaller towns in between did not reflect the needs of the community.

“Public transport is not a privilege, it is a right,” Mr Semken said.

Mr Semken said towns such as Glengarry, Toongabbie and Rosedale and those closer to Sale were only serviced up to three times a day.

He said increasing this to 10 times a day would promote tourism, allow residents to use public transport to reach medical appointments, watch sport matches on weekends and have similar access to services that metropolitan residents enjoyed.

Addressing doubts as to the demand for such frequent services, Mr Semken said true demand could not be gauged by looking at the numbers using current services.

“The frequency is the secret to more people using (the service),” he said.

The group has also proposed increased services between Phillip Island and Traralgon, plus a bus service between Mirboo North, Thorpdale and Trafalgar. Mr Semken estimated these extra services would cost $20 million, but argued that the State Government could afford it, given the hundreds of millions to be spent on the East-West road link.

He said the group would continue lobbying for these improvements in the lead up to the November election.

A spokesperson for Transport Minister Terry Mulder said the Government was committed to the ongoing improvement of public transport services for regional Victorians.

“The group’s proposals will be considered by PTV as part of future planning for Victoria’s regional bus networks and in the context of competing priorities around the state,” the spokesperson said.

They said changes to Victoria’s train, coach and bus timetables included the addition of a new coach service between Bairnsdale and Traralgon via Sale.