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Federal Member for Corangamite Sarah Henderson and Member for South Barwon Andrew Katos have called on the State Labor Government to urgently review bus and train timetable changes across the Geelong and Corangamite regions.
Last night, Ms Henderson and Mr Katos were joined by Shadow Minister for Public Transport David Hodgett and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Rural and Regional Transport Simon Ramsay to listen to the concerns of more than 100 people who attended a community public transport forum in Grovedale.
“In June, the Victorian Labor Government implemented sweeping changes to Geelong’s train and bus timetables which have left many elderly people stranded and students not able to catch a bus to school,” said Ms Henderson.
“At the forum on Tuesday night, we heard some terrible stories about the fact that Grovedale residents can no longer catch a bus to High Street Belmont, and there is no longer a bus service to the Highton shops in Bellevue Avenue.
“School students are also being left high and dry, with bus routes no longer dropping off at Belmont High or Grovedale College.
“Weekend services have been scrapped on some routes, leaving the elderly and shift workers stranded.”
Mr Katos said that a promised review needed to be brought forward urgently.
“While Public Transport Victoria have made vague promises about a review towards the end of this year, changes are needed now,” Mr Katos said.
“People attending the forum also spoke out about the decrease in train services to Marshall and Waurn Ponds stations.
“The overwhelming consensus was that bus and train service should be immediately returned to the former routes and timetables.
“The community spoke loud and clear last night about their frustrations with the changes to the bus and train services.
“We had the opportunity to hear first-hand from all sectors of the community. The message was consistent; people are experiencing difficulties getting to their local shops, doctors, schools, libraries and general services provided in the precincts of Belmont, Highton and Grovedale.
“Train commuters spoke of their frustrations with unreliable train services, overcrowding, cancellations, and consistent delays making their journey longer and spending less time with family. If the Government had conducted proper consultation many of these problems could have been avoided.”
Ms Henderson said that the jointly funded Federal/State Regional Rail Link project was intended to deliver better outcomes for all commuters, especially for the people of Geelong and Corangamite.
“The result has been far from satisfactory – with overcrowded trains and unreliable timetables,” said Ms Henderson.
“And now as recently as June, V/Line’s performance data shows only 85.2 per cent of trains on the Geelong line were “on time”, the equal-worst monthly punctuality result since June last year.
“We don’t want a review in 6 or 12 months, a review needs to happen now. The community are genuinely aggrieved and these problems are having a real impact on their daily lives.
“Labor needs to accept responsibility for these issues now and take action, rather than sitting on its hands while public transport users suffer through these unacceptable changes. -
“Andrew and I are determined to fight for an urgent review to get public transport back on track. That’s why I have launched a petition which I urge all concerned residents to sign: www.sarahhenderson.com.au/get-public-transport-back-on-track/