Buses: route 509

Last week I joined commuters of the former Hope Street bus on the route that was cut without notice by the state government in September last year. I again heard their personal stories of isolation and the lack of access to services, shopping and social activities that they had previously enjoyed when this route was in place. The heartless decision to cut the service has deeply affected this community. Most of the people who frequented the service are elderly, and many have mobility issues. They talked about the isolation they now face and their lack of access to shopping opportunities, including shopping for fresh fruit, and inability to attend important appointments.

Information in documents released by Public Transport Victoria under freedom of information have now added to the very real distress experienced by members of the community in relation to questions they have asked. It is now known from those documents that Minister Mulder’s own department briefed him nine months earlier on the make-up of passengers on route 509 and on the effect removing the bus would have. The documents also significantly contradict and reveal different patronage data from the figures that were quoted in justification for axing the route.

It should be noted that when the minister was questioned in Parliament on 16 August 2012 about the removal of the Hope Street bus, he justified the route’s cessation on the basis that ‘the buses carry an average of less than one passenger per trip’. The documents released under freedom of information show that this is not the case. This is of little comfort to the community that is now languishing without this bus route.

The minister needs to explain his erroneous justification and deliver an outcome for my community.

Hansard, 2013