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Shire considers rolling out Torquay shuttle bus for summer

December 10, 2020 BY

The Wave Rider bus offers a commercial shuttle service across Torquay during summer, similar to the service the shire is considering introducing.

THE Surf Coast Shire is considering bringing back a free summer shuttle bus service in Torquay and Jan Juc for the first time in more than a decade.

The initiative is intended to aid the recovery of the Torquay/Jan Juc community from the coronavirus pandemic by reducing congestion, improving the ability of residents and visitors to get around town in summer, and providing a convenient link to beach and businesses and encouraging expenditure.

According to the report prepared for councillors at their request and considered at their meeting on Tuesday night, the service would run across the 2020/21 peak season – from Boxing Day 2020 to January 26, 2021 – and would be supported by $95,000 in funding from the COVID-19 Support Allocation.

The report states there are several assumptions for the proposal to provide the best chance of success:

  • A free service
  • 10am to 6pm, seven days a week from December 26 to January 26
  • 20-24 seater with driver (via commercial bus company) potentially with trailer for surfboards/larger bags
  • Passengers under 12 to be accompanied by an adult
  • Not competing with or undercutting other services (such as the public bus service)
  • Complement existing public bus services by connecting to other parts of Torquay/Jan Juc
  • A continuous circuit (a loop of about 30-40 minutes) via beaches and main shopping precincts between Jan Juc and The Sands, and
  • Bus stops to be a mix of existing official stops and temporary stops (although temporary stops may not be able to be authorised in the available timeframe).

A two-bus service is recommended, with wait times of close to 20 minutes for passengers.

The shire ran a shuttle bus program in Torquay for three years from 2006-07 to 2008-09 (with a fee for use) and a free service for eight years in Lorne from 2000-01 to 2007-08.

These were discontinued due to high cost (including a doubling of driver costs), low demand, not enough frequency with the available budget, and lack of partnership/sponsorship support.

The Torquay shuttle was followed by a rerouted and extended public transport service (Routes 50 and 51) and also the emergence of private commercial offerings (such as Wave Rider).

The report recommends authorising the shire’s general manager of culture and community Chris Pike to negotiate the best possible service within the allocated funds, but warns “it is unknown if there is enough time to successfully establish a service” by or shortly after Boxing Day.

It also recommends that if Mr Pike deems it is not possible to safely, properly and effectively establish a free shuttle bus service in Torquay/Jan Juc in accordance with the council’s stated objectives for a majority of the stated period, the initiative will be cancelled and the funds returned.