THE Surf Coast Shire has not yet made a decision on the success or otherwise of its Surf Coaster shuttle bus, with the initiative only briefly mentioned in the latest update on the shire’s COVID Recovery Assistance program.
The council committed $1 million to the program in its 2020-21 Budget, and applications opened in June 2020.
According to a report presented to councillors at their meeting on Monday this week, the shire has allocated just under $600,000 so far, with $219,786 going to Business Support initiatives and $379,358 to Community Support initiatives.
The report also includes a brief summary of seven acquitted projects as of this month. They are Sharing the Love Lorne, Torquay Food Aid, Anglesea Community Forum, RESURFACING Mental Health Month, 5C’s for mental health awareness, Return to Patrol and the ANGAIR digital nature show.
Although the Surf Coaster bus began operating its free service on Boxing Day and finished on January 26 this year, it is not included in the acquitted projects, and the only mention is its $55,000 cost in the Community Projects list.
In response to questions, the shire’s general manager of culture and community Chris Pike said the Surf Coaster was one of many initiatives aimed at supporting COVID-19 recovery efforts.
“The review of the service is being conducted and the evaluation report will be tabled at the council meeting scheduled for March 23,” he said.
“The future of the service will be considered then.”
Mr Pike said the service shuttled 772 passengers in its 32 days of continuous operation, and $48,200 was spent planning and delivering the service.
Councillors resolved on December 8 to establish the Surf Coaster service, with the officers’ report at the time noting there was “insufficient time to seek interest from businesses to co-contribute and this would be against the COVID-19 recovery intention of the initiative”, but there was some public criticism of McHarry’s Buslines being appointed to run the buses instead of a Torquay operator such as Wave Rider.