Support for new network

Wendouree MP Sharon Knight has thrown her support behind the new Ballarat Bus Network despite a series of complaints around the new timetable and the change to bus stops throughout the system.

Backing the services: Wendouree MP Sharon Knight, Buninyong MP Geoff Howard and PTV chief executive Jeroen Weimar at the network unveiling in December last year. Picture: Kate Healy.

The new network which was unveiled on January 31 consolidated the region’s 19 bus routes into 15, with services boosted on the remaining lines to provide an average of one bus every half an hour.

In the weeks since the network was unveiled residents from a number of suburbs including Golden Point, Wendouree and Lake Gardens have expressed concern at the new arrangements.

Ms Knight said while there had been some negative feedback in the wake of the roll-out, the reaction was inevitable given the magnitude of the changes. Public Transport Victoria and the state government also added 10 V/Line train services to and from Melbourne.

“There has been a mixed response but it’s a huge changeand the bus system hadn’t been reviewed in a long time so we knew it was going to be a big job,” Ms Knight said.

“We knew we needed to get more trains to thestation for commuters and we need to service that with more buses and there’s whole areas not even being serviced by the existing bus service.”

Ms Knight and Buninyong MP Geoff Howard will meet with PTV on Tuesday to discuss some of the complaints which have been made about the new system.

The Bus stop placement in Humffray Street near the corner of Water Street, connectivity to Central Square and the route connecting Wendouree to Ballarat North were among the issues which had been raised.

Ms Knight said she had been in regular dialogue with PTV and Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan since the service was unveiled at the end of January and was confident some of the faults could be ironed out in the coming months.

“We have already sent through a list of common complaints we are getting and we have also got a meeting with CDC planned because I want the perspective of the bus drivers who are ina great position to help us.”

The changes to the network have led to the creation of 36 new driver jobs due increase in services. Thirteen new buses were also built in Victoria to accommodate for the increase in traffic.

“CDCBallarat has created a significant boost to the local economy through employing 36 new staff to date as a direct result of the Ballarat Bus Network Upgrade,” A CDC spokesperson said. “The spread includes bus drivers, mechanics and operations staff.”

A PTV spokesperson said “The new bus network has been informed in consultation with the Ballarat community who overwhelmingly called for more direct routes with more frequent services and better connections with trains”.

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