By Dongyun Kwon
Changes to the Yarra Valley bus network will take effect from Sunday 26 November, which has caused lots of concerns.
As Star Mail reported in May, former Public Transport minister Ben Carroll announced the changes on Wednesday 26 April and said they would improve the bus services in Yarra Valley.
“We’re improving the Yarra Valley bus network, with more direct and higher frequency services to make catching the bus a better option for locals travelling to employment, education, shops, healthcare and other transport modes,” he said.
Route 684 will be shortened due to low patronage and will no longer travel to Southern Cross Station in Melbourne.
It will be operated from Elidon to Ringwood Station instead of Chirnside Park Shopping Centre, providing additional transport and shopping connections.
Passengers will be able to transfer to the train network at Lilydale or Ringwood stations.
The service will also wait for up to 20 minutes at Ringwood Station for late-running trains, ensuring Eildon passengers do not miss their connection.
Route 685 will be upgraded to link Healesville, Healesville Sanctuary, Badger Creek, Coldstream and Yarra Glen and will become the primary public transport connection to Lilydale Station.
Services will increase on this route to a 40-minute frequency on weekdays and Saturdays, and a 60-minute frequency on Sundays with more evening services added.
Route 686 Healesville to Badger Creek will be replaced by the extended route 685 which will provide a consistent service to the Badger Creek area.
Savings from consolidating routes 685 and 686 will be reinvested into Route 685’s improvements.
In response to low patronage Route 687 Healesville to Chum Creek will be discontinued.
Despite the department’s intention to improve the service, local passengers are concerned about the upcoming inconveniences.
Save The Bus Action Group convenor, an arm of the Buxton Progress Association, Carmel Denham said the new timetable would have no additional services for the 684 bus neither on the weekend nor during the week.
“In reality, people now have less opportunity to attend medical appointments in Melbourne,” she said in a statement.
“They also have to contend with the inconvenience of transitioning from one mode of transport to another on at least two occasions and may have to walk a considerable distance rather than be dropped at the door.”
Ms Denham is calling for people to lodge a complaint against PTV’s decision.
“We are urging everyone to lodge a complaint with the ombudsman by visiting www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au/complaints/make-complaint/,” she said in the statement.
“It is a simple four-step process which takes less than ten minutes to complete.
“If enough people participate and explain how the PTV’s decision will adversely impact them then the government may be forced to change their decision.”