Buses, for many years the poor cousin of Melbourne’s public transport system, will get a boost early next year when five new, higher-frequency routes start up in time with the opening of the Regional Rail Link between Werribee and the CBD.
The new bus routes will run every 20 minutes into some of the least serviced pockets of Melbourne, to and from two new V/Line stations that are being built in the outer west.
The railway stations will serve the suburbs of Tarneit and Wyndham Vale, where housing estates are being built for tens of thousands of people moving into Wyndham, one of the fastest-growing municipalities in Australia.
The $4.3 billion Regional Rail Link is due to open in April, and will untangle rail lines shared by Metro and V/Line, giving each their own dedicated paths. Bus routes and timetables along the 45-kilometre rail line will change in conjunction with its opening, including the creation of five new, direct routes in Wyndham.
The buses will shuttle passengers every 20 minutes in peak times between stations on the Werribee line and the new stations at Tarneit and Wyndham Vale. They will run along main roads, avoiding slow journeys through back streets.
Public Transport Victoria will on Monday hold the first of several community information sessions about the new bus network, which will also involve changes to less frequent neighbourhood buses.
The authority has been criticised over changes it imposed without consultation last month to bus routes in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.
Public Transport Users Association president Tony Morton said that by going out to the public first, PTV was handling its bus changes in Wyndham much better than it did for eastern suburbs residents.
“There’s been a huge backlash there because the changes weren’t explained to passengers and the public was virtually locked out of the process of deciding what the changes ought to be,” Dr Morton said.
“Ultimately public transport is run for the travelling public and it makes sense for the public to be involved.”
Dr Morton said Wyndham’s bus network was ripe for change, its shortcomings representative of those that bedevil the wider suburban network; sparse scheduling, circuitous routes and a failure to connect with trains. These problems combine to force people into their cars, he said.
Cameron Nash is a Swinburne University student who lives in Wyndham Vale. He takes the bus to Werribee station on his way to classes, a winding 25-minute journey. The trip would take him five minutes in his car, but he rides the bus because parking at the station is a nightmare, he said.
“What I’m looking for in a bus route is something that is more direct, connecting up with the trains and more frequent,” Mr Nash said. “Forty minute frequency just doesn’t cut it, especially not in an area like Wyndham.”
LeadWest chief executive Craig Rowley said there were 12,000 households in Wyndham located more than 400 metres from a bus stop, and extending services into those areas was critical.
Public Transport Victoria spokeswoman Helen Witton said the authority wanted to make Wyndham’s buses simpler and more direct.
“We have tried to design a network that is both useful and convenient for more people in Wyndham, and that gets them to their destination as quickly as possible,” Ms Witton said.
For further details, go to ptv.vic.gov.au
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