Route 509 regulars lament axed service


FORMER Hope Street bus rider Sylvia Gascoigne says she was not the hardest hit by the state government’s decision to axe the service – after all, she “only” used the bus for 16 years.

The 83-year-old Brunswick West resident has put together a “Keep in Touch” contact list of the service’s regular users, including the number of years they rode the bus – with some reporting they used the service for 25, 46 and even 50 years.

Public Transport Victoria stopped the 509 route – Melbourne’s shortest – on September 30 last year.

“I don’t know what’s happened to half of them since they stopped the bus,” Ms Gascoigne said.

Some of the former passengers reunited last week after Brunswick MLA Jane Garrett called into question the data cited by the state government in the decision to axe the route.

A Freedom of Information request by Ms Garrett uncovered documents showing bus patronage was closer to two to three passengers per trip, instead of the one per trip figure quoted by Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder.

Larissa Garvin, spokeswoman for Mr Mulder, said the decision was based on a number of factors.

“Unfortunately, Route 509 was not sustainable,” she said.

Royden Ashdown, 67, said losing the service made it harder for him to travel to the shops to buy fresh fruit and vegetables.