Call for improved bus service

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Ageing residents from Pakenham’s northern fringe fearing isolation have called for an extension of bus route 925 due to the lack of public transport five kilometres north of the township.

For 72-year-old Barbara Paterson, walking to the closest bus stop about two kilometres away from Goldcare Lifestyle Village on Toomuc Valley Road, was not an option.

“It would be impossible. My health has gone downhill so I don’t drive anymore,” she said.

“My husband drives but he’s 82 now. When my husband was in hospital about 15 months ago, I was in big trouble and my children had to do all the running around for me. I was really stuck.

“Recently, the husband of another lady in the village who can’t drive had a stroke and the reality of how stuck we are really hit home.

“We see a problem arising in the not too distant future where, for medical reasons, my husband won’t be able to drive and we’ll have definitely lost our independence because this area is a big hole for public transport.”

With concern growing among Goldcare Village, resident Joe Gray launched a petition for “greater and safer access” to the town centre with the proposed extension of bus route 925.

The proposal has been backed by Cardinia Shire Council but is the responsibility of State Government body Public Transport Victoria (PTV).

“Retirement residents are in a vulnerable position. Let’s face it, we’re at higher risk of having a stroke or heart attack and could face losing our licences due to medical reasons,” Mr Gray said.

“The walking distance to access existing bus services would rule out a good majority of people in the village who have limited mobility.

“If I carked it tomorrow, I’d be worried about my wife because she has arthritis and can’t walk that fast.

“You’d become a prisoner in your own home.”

Mr Gray said the proposed extension would use existing roads and cause minimal disruption, with a three to five kilometre detour and a five-minute extension to the timetable.

Rather than the bus heading south to the highway after exiting Balmoral Way, it would travel north to Orchard Valley Road and return to the highway via Mirabelle Street, Syme Road and Toomuc Valley Road.

Mr Gray said Goldcare was expected to house 147 units, so the village population could grow to 300 in the near future.

“That makes it more of a critical situation and it’s not only something that impacts us but also people living in Cardinia Orchard Estate and nearby properties.

“I’ve seen students walking to the bus stop to get to school and it’s pretty far. It’s not very safe.

“The council should be lobbying a lot harder for more bus services and should have been proactive before issuing permits for development out there where it lacks amenities.”

PTVs John Lindsay said existing bus routes were continuously reviewed.

“Feedback received from the broader community and stakeholders is used to help inform future network reviews,” Mr Lindsay said.

“Any changes to existing bus routes would require consultation with the communities it services.”

A spokesperson for Minister for Public Transport, Jacinta Allan, said improvements to services in the Pakenham area would be considered “in the future”.

Member for Gembrook, Brad Battin, told the Gazette he had written to Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan on behalf of residents requesting for buses to service these residents and planned to table the petition in Parliament at a later date.

Those interested in viewing or signing the petition can contact Joe Gray at jhgray@netspace.net.au.

Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.

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About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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