Queries over bus route accessibility

Disappointed: Anne Fahey at her Barkly Street bus stop. Service frequencies on Ms Fahey's line will be reduced from half-hour to every hour and will no longer stop at Ballarat's Central Square.

Disappointed: Anne Fahey at her Barkly Street bus stop. Service frequencies on Ms Fahey's line will be reduced from half-hour to every hour and will no longer stop at Ballarat's Central Square.

Golden Point resident Anne Fahey has raised concerns over the frequency and accessibility of her soon-to-be upgraded bus service.

Public Transport Victoria’s network upgrade is set to take effect from January 29 and promises better coverage across the city with more frequent rides.

However, services are set to be gutted on the Mount Pleasant route (currently route 11 but soon to be renamed route 23) and will no longer run at half-hour intervals when the change takes place, but rather every hour.

The route will also no longer stop at Central Square along Sturt Street, forcing passengers to either wait for another bus at Little Bridge Street, Curtis Street or Ballarat Railway stops, or walk several blocks to the Myer.

“(The impacts) are not just on me, but on the community in general,” Ms Fahey said.

“Firstly, it’s going to an hourly service from half hour and that’s disgraceful.

“Second, you’re going to be cut off from the main shopping centre at Myer (Central Square).

“Someone might say ‘that’s alright, you can walk a bit further’ but that’s not the point. The point is that is was very handy here because it’s near Coles and Woolworths and the mall.

“But you can’t get buses back, – you have to walk back to Little Bridge Street (instead).”

The distance between Central Square and Little Bridge Street is roughly 600 metres, while the station is slightly closer at 550 metres.

The core philosophy behind the new network was that users would not have to walk more than 500 metres to their nearest bus stop.

Ms Fahey said the change is not practical for passengers who use buses as transport to do their shopping.

Public Transport Users Association Ballarat convener Ben Lever said an hourly frequency rate is far less desirable for users.

“An hourly frequency is dramatically less useful to people than a half-hourly frequency, so it's disappointing to see the Mount Pleasant bus cut like this,” Mr Lever said.

“During the consultation sessions, when we were shown maps but not timetables, it looked like this route wasn't going to be affected much at all.”

“The new network is designed to allow for easier interchanges between routes, so in theory people from Mount Pleasant should be able to change to another route that takes them up Sturt Street to their destination. However, this sort of interconnectivity relies on reasonably high frequencies and quite punctual buses, so it remains to be seen if this will work out in practice.”

Public Transport Victoria and the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources have been contacted for comment.