Public Transport Minister leads push for bus interchange funding

Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan is leading the charge to have a new bus interchange at the Ballarat Station Precinct funded in the 2017/18 budget to be released in May.

Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan and Wendouree MP Sharon Knight

Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan and Wendouree MP Sharon Knight

A bus interchange was the notable exclusion from the state government’s $44 million Ballarat Station Precinct announcement last November.

The project will see the development of a new hotel as well as a convention centre in the existing goods shed. 

Speaking to The Courier in January Ms Allan said the interchange would be up to two years away.

Wendouree MP Sharon Knight said while it was too early to say whether the project would gain funding in the upcoming budget, the bid had the support of the minister as well as Buninyong MP Geoff Howard and herself. 

“(The Ballarat Railway Precinct) is a huge project and it’s going to be staged and it was always going to be staged,” Ms Knight said.  “I’ve always talked about the bus terminal going inside the precinct because it is a transport hub and I always knew it would go in there, but you can’t do everything at once.” 

An artist's impression of the government's Ballarat Station Precinct project

An artist's impression of the government's Ballarat Station Precinct project

The bid comes after a controversial seven-stop bus interchange along Lydiard Street North was constructed earlier this year to account for the roll-out of the new Ballarat bus timetable, with a further three bus bays built on Ararat Street.  

While a space was outlined for a potential bus interchange inside the precinct during November’s project announcement it was not funded.

The need for a new interchange to house both local and V/Line bus services was highlighted in the precinct’s 2014 master plan.

It remains unknown how much the interchange would cost to build.

It comes after about 60 community members attended a meeting coordinated by the Save Our Station group on Saturday morning to discuss the future of a push putting forward an alternative use for the government’s $25 million investment. 

Ballarat's Save Our Station group

Ballarat's Save Our Station group

The group met with Ms Knight on Wednesday to discuss their concerns with the government plan and to outline their proposal which would see the goods shed transformed into the bus interchange. 

Group member John Barnes said he didn’t believe the allocated space would be large enough for a bus interchange and said the goods shed would be better used for transport. 

Ms Allan’s office has been contacted for comment.