PUBLIC transport users are backing a push by Mornington Peninsula Shire for better bus services across the peninsula.
They say about 82 per cent of the peninsula is not serviced by public transport and that the shire has the second lowest public transport service in the greater Melbourne area. Peninsula residents are five times less likely to travel to work by public transport than those in Greater Melbourne, and only 3 per cent take public transport to work compared with 15 per cent across Melbourne.
Potential users say they are unhappy with the buses, citing their infrequency, overcrowding, unreliability and lack of direct routes for making it hard to get to work and study.
They say the poor service fosters an over-reliance on cars.
The mayor Cr David Gill last week launched the Better Buses campaign, saying the lack of public transport had “social, economic and environmental impacts across the community, and was adversely affecting the daily lives of residents”.
“Better bus services are key for our residents to access jobs, education, social occasions and medical services,” he said.
“The peninsula is the forgotten land in terms of public transport. We live in a two-tiered landscape where buses only service some of our townships.
“We are suffering from a long-term lack of funding in public transport that has reached breaking point.
“It is unacceptable that if you have a disability, or are too young or too old to drive, then you can’t get where you need to go on the peninsula.”
Cr Gill said it can take two hours – “often much more” – to go by bus from Balnarring to Mornington, a distance of about 20 kilometres. “That’s just not acceptable,” he said.
“There are solutions, specifically introducing a cross-peninsula bus route, and extending and increasing the number of buses on existing routes, such as the 788 Portsea-to-Frankston.
“We know that $10 million a year would fix many of the problems experienced by current bus users, and indeed encourage more users as service levels and accessibility improve.
“This amount is small in comparison to what is spent on public transport in other areas.
“Upgrades to other routes are also urgently needed, and council is committed to working with the state government and exploring every possible option and available solutions to this community issue.”
Mornington MP David Morris has called for a bi-partisan approach to solving public transport woes on the peninsula.
In Parliament last week he said he called on public transport minister Melissa Horne to convene an urgent meeting of all peninsula MPs and Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors to “address our public transport problems”.
“I am suggesting we need to all sit down around the table – the three local members, the councillors and the minister – and try and get some resolution, because the government cannot keep ignoring the Mornington Peninsula when it comes to public transport.”
Mr Morris said he told the parliament public transport had not kept pace with population growth. “I raised the issue of the route 788 bus,” he said. “Ventura, the operator, agreed there was a problem. They had a solution. The minister would not agree. The final response I got was: ‘The member’s interest in these services has been noted, and will be included in considerations for planning in the future’.
“Well, the kids who cannot get on the route 788 bus are not interested in planning for the future. They want the problem fixed now.”
The council wants residents to support the campaign on social media (#betterbuses) or by dropping a Better Buses postcard at one of 30 collection boxes across the shire.