Local bus services in the City of Whittlesea in Melbourne’s outer north may be thrown into chaos due to the opening of the South Morang rail extension on April 22.
Rather than serving the new station and surrounding housing estates with new bus services, the Baillieu Liberal state government intends to re-route most of the existing Epping and Mill Park bus services to South Morang without public consultation and with little information to the public.
“Somehow, in the $600 million rail extension budget, no-one budgeted for maintaining bus services that many Mill Park and Epping pensioners and school children currently rely upon,” local resident and activist Helen Said told Green left Weekly.
“In particular the two buses that my teenager catches to travel to school from my place and from my ex’s place will be amalgamated into a single bus route that doesn’t stop anywhere near either my place or his. We chose our child’s high school largely based on public transport maps we were given at the school’s information night last year.”
The new transport arrangements mean that the multimillion-dollar South Morang Westfield shopping complex will now have more shoppers delivered straight to its doors. On the other hand, the independent convenience store in Mill Park Drive will no longer be accessible by public transport. Residents from the poorer parts of Epping will lose their services to the smaller Stables Shopping Centre where Savers, one of few second-hand shops in the outer north, is located.
“We weren’t consulted about the changes,” Said told GLW. “The only new route information is scant and confusing, only available online, on the phone or on board the buses and in English only — there is no multi-lingual or TTY information lines [for the deaf], nothing in the local papers and no signs at the bus stops.
“What this means is that school children and elderly migrants on the buses are panicking when they see signs and maps they can’t understand. Their family members who would be able to read about or query the changes don’t know what’s going on because they rarely catch the buses.
“To top it off there is a major misprint on the new map where the 564 Bundoora RMIT to South Morang bus is depicted as having a third terminus at the Northern Hospital in Epping when in fact it will no longer go to Epping.”