My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Public Transport, and the action I seek is that she takes all steps necessary to ensure that the government undertakes, as soon as possible, a review of town bus services in the Shepparton-Mooroopna area.
After years of neglect, public transport in the Shepparton electorate is now firmly on the agenda, with $356 million committed to rail improvements. However, bus services within our region are sorely lacking, with no substantial updates taking place since 2009. Indeed, the last review was in 2006 — more than a decade ago.
Patronage continues to grow on the bus services in our region, with the towns of Shepparton and Mooroopna continuing to grow. There are new housing developments springing up to the north, south and east of Shepparton and of course around the Mooroopna area to the west. Bus services do not extend to these new areas where isolation can be quite a problem for people who do not have a motor car, and it can really raise serious issues.
The City of Greater Shepparton is forecast to grow by 24 per cent over the next 18 years, with the population expected to reach over 83 000 by 2036. With better rail connectivity between Melbourne and Shepparton and many new infrastructure projects underway or about to be thanks to funding for Goulburn Valley Health, the Shepparton Art Museum and the Shepparton education plan, as well as the redevelopments and further work at La Trobe University and GOTAFE, Shepparton is a growing city. There is also growing tourism in the area. I think it is really important that these bus services are configured to provide for that. Currently they only run between 7 o’clock in the morning and 6 o’clock at night, and that is inadequate.
Indeed, an example of that inadequacy is the fact that the first bus service in the morning arrives at the Shepparton railway station 10 minutes after the train to Melbourne leaves. Before that the 5.15 a.m. train has left. So the only two train services that leave Shepparton in the morning have no bus arriving in time for people to actually catch those trains. This is creating problems in terms of the Shepparton railway station car park. Because everyone is using motor vehicles, the car park is becoming congested and overcrowded.
There are some simple solutions. The current timetable does not align with typical work patterns and school patterns and often prevents people making use of the bus services that exist. The frequency of services is limited to about once every hour in that 7.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. time frame. It is really important that these services be aligned. Minister, it is my understanding that regional cities like Bendigo and Ballarat and towns in the Latrobe Valley have had full reviews of their bus services in recent years, so it is time that Shepparton and Mooroopna had a go too.