Australia, Bus Industry News

Better Buses laments forgotten west in Victorian budget

A lack of funding for bus services in Melbourne’s west has left Sustainable Cities calling for basic government funding

Friends of the Earth’s Better Buses for the West campaign has responded to the Victorian 2024-25 budget, saying it “disappointingly” doesn’t include anything for bus services in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

The group says the west has been forgotten again and left with unreliable services and convoluted routes.

The focus of the state budget was on Melbourne’s east, with the $25 billion North East Link being protected from cuts and delays, while Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport rail link was delayed.

While Better Buses says that the western rail plan is now “just a figment soon to be lost to memory”, Sustainable Cities spokesperson Adam Bain says the fixing of the 800 bus route in Melbourne’s east is a positive to emerge from the budget.

“We want to congratulate everyone who got involved in the campaign to fix the 800 bus. It is a testament to their persistence and effort to draw attention to a problem long overlooked and get real results from the government,” Bain says.

“We also want to congratulate the residents of the Harpley and Cornerstone Estates in Wyndham, who have been campaigning for a bus for their estate and have finally received funding for one. It is good to see the government listening and responding to community pressure.”

Bain says the state government could’ve at least committed to funding better buses in the west at a mere fraction of the cost of mega infrastructure projects.

While the state budget acknowledges pressures on the construction sector, Bain says investing in better buses shouldn’t add further pressure and that now is the time to invest in buses to provide essential connections for all Melburnians.

Sustainable Cities coordinator Elyse Cunningham says there are some small wins in the budget as a result of sustained community planning, but a lack of change in the government’s approach to bus reform won’t result in any wider community benefits.

“Adding one bus route at a time is a band-aid approach that isn’t going to work anymore,” Cunningham says.

“A wider network transformation is the only solution to the worsening impacts of transport disadvantage that communities in the West are facing.

“If you provide people with a bus that is only going to come every 40 minutes, then they are not going to use it. The government needs to transform the long, winding and convoluted bus routes that are the current broken bus network.

“If our buses ran on a simpler grid then they could come every 10 minutes and align well with train timetables, and actually get us where we need to go. We need a bus network for the 21st century that the community can rely on.”

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