The Yarrawonga Mulwala bus service looks set to end after Public Transport Victoria (PTV) signalled its intent to pull the pin on funding.By Fiona Blick
Adam Thomson, from Thomson’s Bus Lines, said this decision had come as quite a shock, especially after he received written notification from the PTV in July that the bus service would be continuing.
“The general manager of bus operations Graham O’Donnell wrote to me to say that the initial six year trial had been successful,” Mr Thomson said.
“Mr O’Donnell went on to say in the letter that my contract would be extended until November 24 to allow time for the advertisement and procurement of bus contractor.”
Mr Thomson received a phone call earlier this month from PTV’s Route Bus Services Manager Melissa Alessandrini to advise him that the service will now be disbanded and perhaps a “multipurpose taxi service” used in its place.
“Usage numbers have declined slightly but I believe that is due in part to the changing of the bus timetable,” Mr Thomson said.
“The trial began six years ago and in that time Yarrawonga has changed substantially.
“The routes have become outdated with the move of Woolworths and the Opportunity Shop.
“With a bit more promotion and an up to date route and timetable this service could thrive.”
Mr Thomson said he believes Cobram’s bus service is going to be extended “and this service doesn’t go into Barooga whereas Yarrawonga’s also goes into Mulwala”.
“There definitely are other options than to just stop the service and I would love the opportunity to discuss with PTV possible solutions,” he said.
“PTV initially suggested a combined school bus and town bus contract.
“This would make the contract more economical for the government and would keep the town bus service viable.
“It is critical that people let the government know they want to keep this service; they have to write letters and let their voices be heard.”
One bus user, who did not wish to be named, said she used the bus every day, including Saturdays.
“There must be something we can do, even if they put the fares up by ten cents, I would pay that,” she said.
“Another option would be not to run the bus quite as often but we definitely still need the bus.
“How are people without cars going to get into town?”
Member for Murray Valley Tim McCurdy said he has spoken with Mr Thomson and has also received several emails from concerned residents regarding this situation.
“From the conversation with Mr Thomson I went to meet with the Minister for Public Transport and have requested for more research into the demand for this service to be performed,” Mr McCurdy said.
“It would be disappointing if this service is disbanded and while no one wants to see a waste of money if a service is not being used, we have to establish what the numbers actually are for this service and if it is being used then we have to work to keep it.”
Mr McCurdy said he anticipates he will hear back from the Minister in the next fortnight regarding the results of these further investigations.
To voice your concerns to the state government and Public Transport Victoria please contact the following people –
Melissa Alessandrini Tim McCurdy
Manager – Route Bus Services 15 Murphy Street,
Level 9, 750 Collins Street, Wangaratta Victoria 3677
Docklands Victoria 3008
(03) 9027 4913 (03) 5721 6155
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