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05 February 2020
Victorian Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne officially launched a major refinement of Wimmera public transport options during a visit to the region.
Ms Horne visited Stawell and Horsham last week to confirm and announce changes to public bus services, including consolidation of routes and extended service operating hours.
The changes were designed to simplify and improve travel arrangements.
In the Wimmera’s capital, changes came into effect on Tuesday last week, while Stawell’s new bus network will operate from March 2.
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Ms Horne said changes to both cities’ transport options were the result of extensive community and council consultation, and she was confident in their benefits.
Horsham’s previous seven bus routes were combined into four higher frequency through-town routes that will operate for longer hours each day.
Ms Horne said this would create 96 more services a week and would improve community access to key locations such as Horsham Aquatic Centre, Kalkee Road Children’s and Community Hub and Wimmera Base Hospital.
She said later weekday services would also help Horsham students get home after extra-curricular activities and allow people to shop in town after work before heading home.
“We’re making it easier for everyone in Horsham to travel on the city’s buses – whether they are travelling to school, work or down to the local shops,” she said.
Horsham mayor Mark Radford welcomed the new community bus network.
He said the changes were valuable enhancements that would improve Horsham’s transport options and create incentive for more people to use public transport.
“The local bus network has received a welcome boost,” he said.
“The longer operating hours, more services and new bus stops will create good opportunities for people to consider their commute to work.
“Already, we have staff members at council who are using the new services to commute to work, which is great – give it a try, would be my advice.”
For Stawell, changes will be similar to Horsham. The town’s three existing bus routes will combine into two ‘higher frequency’ services, and there will be new Saturday services.
Ms Horne said this would offer people 10 services on each route on weekdays and five services per route on Saturdays, resulting in 30 more weekly services.
She said routes would offer greater links to destinations including Central Park, Stawell Sports and Aquatic Centre, Stawell West Primary School and Stawell Secondary College.
She said new bus stops were under construction across Stawell to accommodate for the network changes.
“We’ve worked closely with Stawell community to make sure these changes deliver the bus network that locals need,” she said.
Program to continue
Ms Horne also used her visit to announce a $50,0000 investment for a Wimmera Southern Mallee Transport Program to continue for another two years.
Horsham’s Centre for Participation and West Wimmera Shire operate the program, which provides people return door-to-door transport between Kaniva and Horsham.
Volunteer drivers pick up passengers from their homes in Kaniva, Nhill, Dimboola and Pimpinio en route to Horsham each Wednesday, and transport them to designated pickup points along the Western Highway to connect with bus services to Horsham.
Saturday services are also available once a month.
Ms Horne said the program allowed residents outside of Horsham to access medical appointments, educational opportunities and recreational activities in the city.
“We’re proud to be working with the Centre for Participation, West Wimmera Shire Council and their volunteer drivers to help reduce feelings of isolation and exclusion and promote positive community connections,” she said.
The entire February 5, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!