Thursday, 1 June 2023


Bus network

Katherine COPSEY

Bus network

Katherine COPSEY (Southern Metropolitan) (15:53): (277) My adjournment tonight is for the Minister for Public Transport. We know that many communities across Victoria effectively live in public transport deserts. By and large those communities live in rural and regional areas and in outer metro areas. My colleague Dr Sarah Mansfield has heard from her constituents that a short, 20-minute car trip from Mount Helen to the Ballarat Botanical Gardens takes a whopping 1 hour and 10 minutes if you need to go by bus – nearly four times as long.

Two weeks ago I joined community members from western Melbourne – Mr Luu also addressed the rally, and Mr Ettershank was there as well – at a protest on the front steps of Parliament calling for better, and in some cases any, bus services across the west. The group are calling for a transformation of Victoria’s bus network from the long, convoluted routes that we currently have to a simple grid with 10-minute frequencies. A bus network that is unreliable and infrequent means that Victorians do not trust buses to get where they need to go, and people who do not drive are facing higher levels of socio-economic disadvantage as it prevents them from accessing jobs, education and health care. Bus reform for Victoria is not just a transport issue, it is a matter of equity.

Victoria’s bus plan from 2021 states that a lot of our bus routes have evolved incrementally over the years, meaning many do not have a clear purpose and do not serve a distinct travel need. They become overly complex, and that deters potential bus passengers. But while this budget made sure that bus reform investment did not go backwards, it also did not go nearly far enough. There is no guarantee that we will see the transformative change needed during this term of government on current budget settings, and there was no explicit commitment to prioritise the west or rural and regional Victoria, where better buses are really needed most.

The announcements this year are in line but with the incremental reform that we have always seen in Victoria. Transport is the second largest and the fastest growing source of emissions in Victoria, so if we are serious about meeting the government’s own targets for net zero emissions by 2045, we need to take the action to decarbonise our transport network. So my adjournment this evening to the Minister for Public Transport is: given you have stated that incremental evolution of bus routes becomes overly complex and deters potential bus passengers, will you please lay out for us your plan for transformational bus reform in this term of government, prioritising the areas of Victoria that need it the most?