As the next stage of works at the Ballarat train station begin, questions have been raised regarding the future of the regional bus interchange on the station's southern side.
A 2018 Heritage Victoria planning document from when works on the station precinct were about to begin notes "the applicant ... must submit an application for the removal of the regional bus interchange from the south side of the station complex and its incorporation into the bus interchange approved by this permit".
It must also "include the removal of the regional bus interchange shelter structure from the south side of the station and the amelioration of the forecourt of the South Station".
However, there are currently no plans for the structure's removal, or for a new regional bus interchange, according to the state Department of Transport.
The local bus interchange, to the station's north-east, is beginning construction, but it's not known where regional buses will go when the permit's 2022 deadline hits.
Save Our Station secretary John Barnes said the department "needs to get its skates on".
"Without committing as much again in the next Victorian budget as the $27 million already spent, and starting the consultation, design and planning process tomorrow, they will not deliver the regional bus interchange or disability access between platforms by the December 2022 deadline, let alone the many other critically needed works to restore our heritage and create a station to meet the demands as a key public transport hub for the next 50 - 100 years," he said in a statement.
According to the department, the local bus interchange is the priority, as it will remove buses from residential streets, but there remains provision for a new regional interchange in the future.
"We're making it safer and easier for Ballarat passengers to connect between train and bus services with a new bus interchange at Ballarat Station," a spokesperson said in a statement.
"This new interchange is the result of extensive consultation with the Ballarat community and will deliver local buses a new permanent home, reducing the impacts on local roads, residents and traders."
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It's understood the regional bus interchange is separate to works beginning on the Ballarat Station Southside Masterplan, with consultation on that project expected to begin on January 18.
The Ballarat train station precinct upgrade includes a new multi-level car park, which has already been completed, a hotel - both of which are already open - and a revitalisation of the heritage Goods Shed into a retail, food, and function centre, as well as the new bus interchange.
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