New era for bus network

BUS commuters will step into a new era on Tuesday when the biggest revamp of Warrnambool’s public transport network goes into drive mode.

An extra 400 services a week will be added to the network and peak frequency has been increased to every half hour on weekdays and hourly on weekends.

An extra 80 stops have been added to the network while some existing stops will be removed.

“I’m not aware of anywhere else in Australia that has introduced changes as big as this in one day,” Warrnambool Bus Lines manager Sam Lucas said yesterday.

“We’ve been preparing for this for months and are keen to get it right.”

It will provide opportunity for workers to leave the car at home and catch buses directly into the CBD from 7am at $4 a day as well as other more frequent services connecting with trains and major destinations.

Deakin University students will have less excuses for missing lectures with more regular direct services to the Sherwood Park campus from as early as 7am.

However, there are likely to be teething problems as commuters grapple with new timetables and pick-up stops organised by Melbourne-based Public Transport Victoria (PTV). 

New bus stop flags and timetables will be installed at the new locations on Monday night while bags will be placed over stops to be taken out of service.

Ten existing routes on the free school bus runs have been retained, but some students will have to use urban buses at a small fee. 

Community protests last year forced the state transport body to adjust its draft network which would have meant hundreds of young children waiting at the Koroit Street interchange.

Parents have been urged to contact Warrnambool Bus Lines on 5562 1866 for clarification before schools resume next week.

Protests also prompted PTV to retain services to  Gateway Plaza, quashing earlier fears the shopping centre would be virtually bypassed. 

New indented stops on Gateway Road adjacent to the plaza and Wannon Water will be installed after planning approvals, but in the meantime two temporary stops will be installed north of the shopping centre and a bus will continue to stop at the rear plaza car park.

“PTV encourages local residents to jump on board and experience first-hand benefits of the new network,” communications adviser Helen Witton said.

“Residents will benefit from more frequent and direct services that start earlier and finish later.”

Ms Witton said notification of the changes had been delivered to every household in the city, notices were on buses and advertisements had been placed in The Standard.

pcollins@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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