Three bus bays along Lydiard Street North’s controversial interchange will be moved to Ararat Street to ease congestion and noise issues.
Public Transport Victoria has confirmed it will move the bays from the temporary exchange, designed to house overlay buses, in time for its January 29 timetable change.
The move follows weeks of residential unrest in wake of the state government’s announcement that its $44 million railway precinct overhaul would not include a funded interchange upgrade – resulting in an additional seven stops placed along Lydiard Street at a cost of 23 car parks.
“Locating three bus bays in Ararat Street will reduce the presence of buses in Lydiard Street North as they wait between services, while still making it easier for passengers to connect between trains and buses at Ballarat Station,” a PTV spokesperson said.
Prior to the network upgrade there were five existing bus bays located in Lydiard Street North to go with the additional seven (now reduced to four).
Lydiard Street North residents Greg and Lyn Honeyman said they approved of the change, but still hold fears for congestion.
“For us up the far end (of the street) it's better news, but it's only a partial solution,” Mr Honeyman said.
“It's better in that we won't have buses sitting out the front idling,” Ms Honeyman added. “They don't turn off their engines and could be there for up to half an hour. There will still be congestion until they get them into the precinct.”
City of Ballarat councillor Daniel Moloney was largely complimentary of the network upgrade and station overhaul, but said moving the bays is not a perfect solution.
“Big parts of Ballarat were winners, but Lydiard Street wasn’t and that to us was still unacceptable,” Cr Moloney said.
“We have sympathy for the need to pick up and drop off commuters out the front of the station.
“We’re after that level of connectivity and that makes complete sense. What doesn’t make sense is having buses sit out the front of residents’ houses.
“To their credit (PTV) have come to the party on that discussion. But it’s not a perfect situation by any means.”
Regular bus services, which are not required to wait, will still operate from Lydiard Street North.
Central to the issue for local residents is the effort to link all bus routes on the new network through the Ballarat Railway Station to allow for better connection with train services.
Cr Moloney said while it’s positive for the network overall, the impacts would be felt closer to Lydiard Street.
Regardless, a government spokesperson said he hoped the move of overlay bays would “reduce the presence of buses in Lydiard Street North”.
“PTV continues to speak with local residents and businesses as we look forward to getting on with delivering more services, more often for Ballarat,” the spokesperson said.
It’s understood the City of Ballarat will prepare Ararat Street for the introduction of the bays in time for the timetable change.
“The City of Ballarat is continuing to work with PTV, which is the lead agency for the project,” a statement from council said.
It’s likely that the temporary interchange could be used for years, given it is not funded as part of the initial railway station precinct works.