Patrons lose hope

BUS CUT BASED ON ‘ERRONEOUS’ DATA, SAYS MP

THE State Government’s decision to scrap the historic Hope St bus service was based on flimsy data, an opposition MP says.

Freedom of Information documents obtained by Brunswick state Labor MP Jane Garrett show the government’s allegation of poor bus patronage on route 509 did not factor in myki users.

Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder told State Parliament on August 16 the reason the service was cut was because ‘‘ the buses carry an average of less than one passenger per trip’’, but the document that includes both Metcard and myki users revealed there were on average two to three passengers per trip.

The decision to scrap the 56-year-old route in September prompted an outcry from hundreds of users who petitioned the government to retain what many described as a ‘‘lifeline’’.

Ms Garrett said the documents showed that Mr Mulder had been briefed on the ‘‘mainly elderly’’ makeup of patrons nine months prior to the route’s closure.

‘‘The cutting of this service has isolated many people and restricted access to essential weekly shopping, to appointments, community and social organisations and to Melville and Sydney roads,’’ Ms Garrett said.

‘‘Minister Mulder needs to explain his erroneous justification in parliament for cutting of the Hope St bus.’’

Old-age pensioner Sylvia Gascoigne, 83, said she felt ‘‘terrible’’ when the government announced the service wasn’t sustainable.

‘‘We all pay our taxes and are model citizens and this is how we get treated,’’ Ms Gascoigne said.

Mr Mulder’s spokeswoman Larissa Garvin said the decision was based on a number of factors, including low use.

‘‘With so few passengers and other bus and tram options nearby, route 509 was not sustainable,’’ Ms Garvin said.

She said buses 503 and 508 on Albion and Victoria streets continue to provide transport access for Hope St residents.

Moreland Leader, 4th March 2013