New bus route stops leave some by wayside

RICHARD White used to catch the bus about 150 metres from his home, but as from today the nearest service will be almost a kilometre way.

At 75 years of age and hobbled by the effects of a broken leg, he’s not keen to take the painful walk to one of the new bus stops mapped out under Public Transport Victoria’s (PTV) massive revamp of the Warrnambool network.

Instead, he’ll use taxis and try for a Transport Accident Commission subsidy support.

Several other stops used by Warrnambool commuters for decades will officially not exist from 7 o’clock this morning under the new timetable and routes.

Yesterday workers installed new information boards at 70 new stops around the network, which extends from Allansford to Port Fairy.

It’s likely to cause initial confusion and annoyance for commuters unaware of the changes, which have been planned for months.

PTV says residents will benefit from more frequent and direct services that include routes specifically for workers and university students. However, for elderly or disabled commuters like Mr White who rely on public transport, it will be a huge setback.

There will be no buses on Eddington Street where he lives, nor any other nearby streets. He and other residents in that precinct will have to walk to Banyan, Cramer, Nicholson or Wanstead streets.

A few other pockets around the city will also be without close access to a bus stop, but PTV says the revamp will be more efficient and the new stops are spaced 400 metres apart.

“There are others I know who are in the same predicament and are not happy about these changes,” Mr White told The Standard.

“It will be a huge inconvenience for me because I’ll have to walk up to a kilometre to the nearest bus stop.

“And if I’m coming back from town with a load of groceries it will be a big ask to get up the hills.

“Even with a taxi card it will cost me about $10 to go down to town or Gateway Plaza and back. The bus is only $2 a day.

“Before I broke my leg after being hit by a car in September, I used buses four or five times a week.”

City councillor Jacinta Ermacora, who helped community groups protest against earlier proposed changes to the network, said she would keep a close watch on the roll-out.

“Warrnambool is used to a good quality bus service — this is a cut-price upgrade where there will be winners and losers,”  she said.

“Two additional routes would have brought services much closer together.

“I will be seeking feedback along with community groups.”

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