MEMBER for Narracan Gary Blackwood says plans to improve bus services in Baw Baw are in place but more funding is needed.
Mr Blackwood told The Warragul Citizen some local bus service improvements had been approved, but a lack of funding was holding back implementation.
“There has (sic) been a couple of improvements to bus services in the area that have actually been approved but we are still awaiting funding,” Mr Blackwood said.
“That’s an extension of the town bus service in Warragul from the hospital around to the Lifestyle Village and back down Burke Street, that’s been ticked off as needing to happen.”
Mr Blackwood said town services for Drouin were also on the cards.
“Drouin is one of the largest town centres in Victoria that doesn’t have a town bus service – it’s also been prioritised for funding,” Mr Blackwood said.
“We’re also looking at ways we can improve the Noojee to Warragul bus service as well, but those three initiatives are awaiting funding, so I’m pushing for that to happen.”
When asked what kind of priority those projects had, Mr Blackwood said they were “well up the list” but he was not sure when funding will become available.
“It is well up the list in terms of funding priorities, so we’re just waiting for funds to be allocated to that expansion,” Mr Blackwood said.
“I can’t tell you for sure that it’ll be in this budget but we have had discussions with the relevant ministers about trying to get funding in this budget.
“I can’t promise it will but we’re trying, we’re trying.”
Baw Baw lobbying
Baw Baw Shire CEO Helen Anstis told The Warragul Citizen last month that the council had been lobbying the state government for extra bus services.
“We have been lobbying the state government about public transport, particularly our north-south connections,” Ms Anstis said.
“We have an east-west train line but the connectivity north-south is not really meeting the needs of a growing community.
Ms Anstis said the council had been lobbying for improved bus services for over a year and a half.
“I’m hoping that with the new Warragul Railway Station Precinct upgrade, with the bus interchange there, we will be able to work with the Department of Transport to improve connectivity,” Ms Anstis said.
Ms Anstis said she did not think the state government would move on to other areas after contributing funding to the station precinct project.
Mr Blackwood said linking into rail services was important.
“We need to improve the bus services from the outlying communities into the major centres, and that’s certainly being looked at,” Mr Blackwood said.
There will be opportunity to link the extension of the Warragul town services in with that project when that’s finished, so that’s certainly coming.”
At last week’s council meeting Lifestyle Village Warragul resident Jim Chapman expressed concerns about delays to funding.
“Give me busses first, before you give me a [multi-million dollar] interchange,” Mr Chapman said.
Mr Chapman said he had talked to Mr Blackwood about the issue.
Last year Warragul Bus Lines General Manager Philip Radford criticised bus timetables in Baw Baw, saying Warragul had a “very poor town service”, Drouin’s services were poor and state government plans to improve services made by the previous Labor government had been shelved.
Mr Blackwood said the project had not been shelved.
“The extensions of those services, they were prioritised in that plan and we are following that through,” Mr Blackwood said.
“I’m not aware of any other elements in that plan.
“There’s been nothing dropped off that I’m aware of, the initiatives that were outlined as priorities in that plan we are still running with.”
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