Rolling: Golden Plains Shire mayor Cr Helena Kirby and Buninyong & District Community Bank chair Ian Corcoran on the municipality’s new community bus. Photo: ALISTAIR FINLAY

New bus part of transport shortfall

July 22, 2021 BY

A NEW bus service trial underway in the north and south of the Shire has the ultimate goal of gathering data in support of a push for permanent public transport options in the municipality.

Despite large communities on the fringe of the major metropolitan centres of Geelong and Ballarat, Golden Plains has no frequent public transport services.

“As a Shire we’re really advocating for bus services to come out to the Golden Plains Shire,” said mayor Cr Helena Kirby.

“This will be a good starting point to find out the data. How many people will be accessing the service? And we’ve heard it from our youth survey that this is one of the major things that they want.

“If we can get the figures up, make sure people are using the service… I’m just hoping we need a bigger bus in the future.”

The new community shuttle trial will hit the road later in the July and run for three months, connecting with Geelong and Ballarat.

Offering a one day a week service, the bus will travel a route in the south of the Shire on Tuesdays, in a loop between Bannockburn, Inverleigh, Shelford and Teesdale, before heading back to Bannockburn and onto Batesford and Geelong.

Thursday’s will see the service go from Linton, Scarsdale, and Smythesdale, then running to Delacombe Town Centre and Stockland Wendouree before heading back the other way.

“A good outcome from this trial is we can keep the service going and keep residents moving around in their own Shire,” said Cr Kirby.

“It’s not just about going into Ballarat. People can go from Linton to Smythesdale, for example, and utilise what we have in our own Shire.”

The three-month trial will cost a bit under $28,000. The State Government is putting in $20,000, just over $6000 is coming from the Buninyong & District Community Bank, and the Shire is making up the rest.

Community Bank chair Ian Corcoran said funding the bus service was part of his organisation’s social contract.

“Our mission is to build community,” he said. “To feed into prosperity, not off it.

“How do we do that? We build connections, we facilitate conversations and we leverage the resources of our partners.

“This initiative for us was a tremendous example of what we actually do.”

Use of the bus is free, but bookings are required via 5220 7151, and COVID-19 safe practices must be adhered too, including use of facemasks.

More information on the bus service is available via goldenplains.vic.gov.au, and hardcopy timetables can be picked up from a range of outlets along the routes.