New Torquay bus network welcomed but falls short

May 25, 2024 BY

SCEG urban environment spokesperson Mat Hines. Photo: ANGUS SMITH

THE Surf Coast Energy Group (SCEG) has expressed a mixed response to the new Torquay bus network, to begin in June.

SCEG’s Urban Environment spokesperson Mat Hines said while some improvements were welcome, the network failed to fully meet the needs of Torquay and Armstrong Creek residents, workers, and visitors.

“Throughout the consultation period we were promised a new network that would be frequent, fast, and reliable, with a rapid service into Geelong and new routes to service growth areas.

“Instead, we have seen routes being cut, growth areas missing out on new services, increased travel times, and the rapid service no longer being rapid.”

Mr Hines also pointed out a significant gap in the network.

“The department has continued to ignore calls for a service linking the coast to the major employment and education precinct of Deakin/Epworth/Waurn Ponds,” he said.

SCEG acknowledges some positive changes such as one additional bus route to Torquay, extended evening operating hours, and a higher frequency service on the new Route 53.

“Longer operating hours are long overdue and important for supporting our night-time economy and enabling evening shift workers to travel to and from the coast,” Hines said.

However, he said there were several drawbacks.

“The final network sees the area around The Sands losing its service, and the proposed route servicing the Grossmans Road growth corridor will not go ahead.

“These changes will further entrench car dependency and impact workers and visitors to The Sands and Kithbrooke Park/Ocean Mist.”

Changes will also increase travel times from Jan Juc to Marshall Station by 10 minutes due to a more convoluted route. Jan Juc residents, now served by two routes into Geelong, will now need to interchange, adding to their journey times.

Mr Hines said the rapid bus would now stop at every stop, so it would only slightly reduce travel time.

“The journey time from Torquay to Geelong will only be reduced by up to 5 minutes, and it will run once every 25-35 minutes, which is far from adequate. Meanwhile, the other two routes will run only once an hour.”

SCEG is urging the Department of Transport and Planning, the Surf Coast Shire, and the City of Greater Geelong to collaborate on a strategy that encourages uptake of the new services by residents, major employers, workers, and visitors.

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