Surf Coast Energy Group (SCEG) is calling on the Department of Transport and Planning to announce when the new bus network for Torquay and Armstrong Creek will commence, and to assure the community that the new network will meet their needs.
In May 2022, the government announced a review of the bus network in Torquay and Armstrong Creek. The last round of community consultation concluded in June last year.
Mat Hines, SCEG Urban Environment spokesperson said “At the time, and ever since, the community has been told that the new network will be introduced in 2024. We are now half-way through January, yet we still don’t know when the new network will be introduced, what it will look and function like and whether or not it will meet the needs of our community – its residents, workers and visitors.”
Mr Hines has written to the Minister for Public Transport, but is yet to receive a reply. A copy of the letter is attached. Conversations with the Department have so far failed to address SCEG’s concerns or to provide an implementation timeline. “The community deserves answers on when the new network will be introduced and whether or not it will meet their needs.”
“Torquay and Armstrong Creek have been amongst the fastest growing communities in the country and yet public transport infrastructure has failed to keep up. As a result, car dependency has become entrenched, as it has in all growth areas across the state. This is economically, environmentally and socially unsustainable.”
“In a cost of living crisis, the government can provide relief by ensuring people have access to a cheaper alternative than driving – through public and active transport. This also meets the needs of the many in our community who can’t or don’t want to drive – including young people and the elderly.”
“Armstrong Creek was touted as a sustainable, master-planned community with promises of a railway line and an extensive bus network. This network would also have benefitted Surf Coast residents. 15 years on and the infrastructure for Armstrong Creek is far from what was promised.”
SCEG would like commitments from the government and DoT that the new network will meet the needs of residents, workers and visitors including:
· the reduction in routes to Jan Juc will not result in a reduction of frequency,
· the requirement for passengers to interchange in Torquay or Marshall will not result in increased travel times,
· services will operate late into the evening to support our hospitality industry and shift workers,
· buses will be capable of carrying bikes, as exist elsewhere in Victoria,
· the Sands route will be retained
· a marketing campaign will be undertaken with the introduction of the new network, to promote the Surf Coast as a destination that can be reached and explored by public transport
· accessible bus stops will be provided at key locations, such as activity centres, near aged care and ECEC centres.
· a direct link to Deakin/Epworth will be provided (where 900+ Surf Coast/Armstrong Creek residents work/study), connecting to Waurn Ponds Shopping Centre, our nearest major centre.
· a summer timetable will be introduced (with increased frequencies and additional routes to meet summer demand)
· the introduction of a local route for Anglesea will planned for
· a review of VLine services will be undertaken, to increase frequency and hours of operation, to meet the needs of our coastal townships
SCEG has also called for the release of the options assessment for the Surf Coast Highway Study, which was due for public comment from Aug-Dec 2023. The highway study is to look at how the highway can better accommodate all forms of transport. “The recent Infrastructure Victoria report highlighted the importance of dedicated bus lanes for rapid bus transit. With rapid bus transit proposed for Torquay to Geelong, SCEG are calling for dedicated bus lanes on Surf Coast Highway, in Armstrong Creek and Grovedale, to be part of the solution.” Mr Hines said.