Lydiard Street residents are furious that seven bus stops will be temporarily built in the street until the yet-to-be funded bus interchange is built at the railway precinct.
Residents were told on Tuesday night an additional seven stops, running from the station to Nolan Street, would be built this month and be operational by January 2017.
This comes days after a government spokesman told The Courier “the current arrangements for public transport on Lydiard Street will continue until the new interchange is built”. The Courier understands the government has no money set aside for the permanent interchange and no plans have been approved.
A government spokesman said Public Transport Victoria had put forward “a proposal to install more bus bays on Lydiard Street” to deliver more frequent and direct bus services to Ballarat.
He said PTV had consulted the community, but residents dispute this claim. Lydiard Street resident George Balazic said residents had “never been informed” of plans for additional Lydiard Street bus stops.
“There was no public consultation. It was ‘hush, hush’. This is not acceptable, (I’m) not impressed as it impacts a residential area and the city’s heritage,” Mr Balazic said.
“How would you like it if you had 14 buses parked outside your house?”
Resident Stacey Quinlan questioned why the government would run “consultation sessions” when building was expected to start this month. She said residents had no information about the scale of the project or lighting in the area.
The Courier’s questions surrounding the timeline, cost and scale of the development were not answered by the government.
The government spokesman said the development was necessary to deliver more frequent and direct bus services to Ballarat. But residents are concerned this will lead to traffic congestion as buses will stop at bus bays to allow passengers to board and keep to timetables.
“It will also be necessary for buses to wait at these stops until their allocated departure times. This is to ensure that buses are running to their timetable so people don’t miss their connections,” a letter received by residents states.
Residents are also concerned at least 23 carparks in Lydiard Street will be lost or unusable once the bus bay is complete. PTV nor the government would confirm how many buses would use the interchange, when the services would operate or how many carparks would be impacted.
Public Transport Users Association Ballarat branch convener Ben Lever said PTV had not engaged in any consultation with commuters regarding the relocation of the bus stop.
“There’s been none whatsoever. I think they (PTV) are in a hard space because there are not many places they could locate the buses,” Mr Lever said.
“We were quite disappointed by the railway precinct announcement because there hasn’t been much done for public transport.
“The announcement was all about car parks and hotels – there were masterplans for bus interchanges and taxi ranks but they haven’t funded any of it.”
Mr Lever said the impacts of the reconfigured network were yet-to-be-known and commuters did not know the exact the planned routes. Further details about the new network are expected to be announced in the coming months.
City of Ballarat’s director of infrastructure and environment Terry Demeo confirmed council was made aware of the proposal in recent weeks. He said council had requested PTV consult with neighbours over this proposal. He said council expected PTV to advise council of feedback from residents.