The Labor government’s $25 million overhaul of the Ballarat Railway Station could seriously under-service commuter parking requirements.
Commuters could be shortchanged more than 100 parks if they are unable to use the spaces allocated for the hotel and convention centre, which will be constructed by a private developer when a tender is announced.
While the overall number of parking spots is expected to increase under the precinct upgrade, which involves converting the northern section of the station into a formal park, it’s still unclear if everyday commuters will be able to uses spaces allocated for the hotel and convention centre built by a private developer.
A statement from the office of Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford earlier in the week said the development would establish “270 formalised commuter car parks and an additional 150 car parks for the hotel and conference centre patrons”.
However, another statement earlier in the month from Ms Pulford’s office suggested the commercial parks could be separate to the commuter section.
“The project will deliver up to 270 formalised commuter car parks on land owned by VicTrack,” it said.
“The new commuter car park will replace the existing formal 125 commuter car parks and formalise 145 informal commuter carparks which are currently provided on uneven gravel and over redundant rail track infrastructure.
“The Project will also deliver commercial car parks for the hotel and convention centre patrons.”
In what is a worrying sign for commuters, the numbers provided by the state government appear to drastically under-serve the station’s needs.
Two counts of the total park undertaken by The Courier last Tuesday showed commuters managed to squeeze more than 390 cars into the entire precinct.
The formal section of the station was holding 141 vehicles, with only a handful of half-hour spaces available, while the informal gravel section was the site of more than 250 vehicles.
Public Transport Users Association Ballarat convener Ben Lever said the state government must look at other measures to accommodate for Ballarat’s enormous jump in commuter numbers.
"Whether the number of parking spaces at Ballarat station is to be maintained or reduced, one thing is clear: passenger numbers on the Ballarat line are going through the roof, and there's no way the government can keep expanding parking to match that growth,” Mr Lever said.
“As train patronage continues to grow, the best use of government funds will be on improving bus services, which will both bring people to the station for onward journeys, and bring them into the CBD for shopping and recreation.
“With a frequent, direct bus that runs late into the evenings and throughout the weekend, it will make more and more sense for people to leave the car at home, and take the bus to the station."
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