Local tourism operator Fiona Van Kempen has been banned by V/Line from parking her bus outside Warrnambool Station since March 2020, apparently without justification.
South-West Coast MP Roma Britnell raised the issue in parliament last week, asking the Minister for Transport to explain the reasoning behind the decision.
"I urge the minister to visit Warrnambool ... and see just how simple this is to solve and how absurd it is that this has not been fixed already," Ms Britnell said in parliament.
Ms Van Kempen said the decision to ban her bus from the designated coach area out the front of the station had created significant ongoing difficulties for her tour business, and had even led to her losing business, with tour groups cancelling bookings.
She said as tourist travel peaks with Summer coinciding with the end of COVID-19 lockdowns, she worried she would lose more trade than ever.
Ms Van Kempen started her Warrnambool Tours business in December 2018 with the aim of transforming Warrnambool into a major tourist destination.
"Back then, Warrnambool was an overnight or drive through destination. The plan was to make it a place people would use as a base for day trips," she said.
Train travel was an essential part of the advertising and business strategy.
"We marketed it really heavily with V/Line. All the promos were 'get the train down'.
"The idea was people would come down on the train and then stay in Warrnambool and take tours. It was a win-win," she said.
Warrnambool Tours has been the only full-time tourism operator in Warrnambool encouraging train travel.
For the first 18 months of operation, she would park her bus in the designated bus and coach bays directly outside Warrnambool Station.
"We never had a single problem," she said.
Then one day the station master asked Ms Van Kempen to move her bus when several coaches arrived at the station.
She said she moved immediately to a bay much further down in the public car park, but was then told she would have to park there from then on.
"There have been occasions where I've had to drop an elderly lady in the pouring rain carrying all her luggage through the car park."
Ms Van Kempen has asked the station master and V/Line's regional manager to reconsider the decision, but has been rebuffed each time.
Ms Britnell has also tried several times over the past 18 months to get a justification from V/Line and the Minister for Transport, but is yet to receive a response.
A V/Line spokesperson said "we continue to work with the tour operator to support its services operating in the station precinct".
Ms Van Kempen disputed this.
"I've just stopped dropping off and picking up at the station," she said.
V/Line said it was not possible to make any of the seven coach bays at the station available to any other tourism operator, saying coaches might be prevented from parking.
Ms Van Kempen said this would never happen.
"I am always with my bus, so if a number of coaches arrived I could just move. Plus I never come down to the station when there is rail replacement happening (when coaches replace trains)."
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