The Public Transport Users Association has launched an ambitious proposal suggesting reform of the city’s current bus network is needed to better connect Ballarat.
In a 34-page proposal, one of the key ideas is to link routes on opposite sides of Ballarat together to provide cross-town routes similar to Melbourne’s tram network.
Buses would also travel to Ballarat Station and Bridge Mall via a more direct route.
To do this, PTUA has suggested three SmartBus routes running to higher frequencies and more hours.
In the proposal, PTUA said while the current network went a long way in achieving its goals of offering improved efficiency, connectivity and legibility, the suggested changes would be targetting the network’s shortfalls.
PTUA Ballarat branch convener Ben Lever said another key driver behind the proposal was the upcoming increase in frequency of trains from every hour to every 40 minutes in late 2019.
“That’s going to break the connectivity that they’ve got now with buses that go every 30 or 60 minutes, so there is a need to increase the frequency for the buses to link up with those trains,” he said.
“There are also people who want to get to shops instead of the station, but the new network is very much geared towards getting people to the station.
“That’s meant it’s not a convenient option for many people. Some people have had a route go from very direct to very indirect.”
Mr Lever also said padding in the timetable needed to be trimmed as it was slowing the network down.
PTUA will present the proposal to political candidates in the lead up to the election as well as talk to Committee for Ballarat and council.
Ballarat’s bus network was updated in early 2017, with 19 routes reduced to 15.
According to Public Transport Victoria, the design of the network change was overwhelmingly supported in more than 700 community feedback submissions during the consultation process.
PTV chief executive officer Jeroen Weimar said the changes to the bus network last year had delivered more direct and frequent services to key destinations and improved connections to trains.
“Work on the new Ballarat bus interchange is currently under way and when complete will enable further improvements to be made,” Mr Weimar said.
“Transport for Victoria will conduct a review of the Ballarat bus network once construction on the new interchange and the broader Ballarat Station precinct is complete.”
You can see the full report here.