Bus services under fire

By Evelyn Leckie

CONCERNED residents are crying out for more bus services after students, elderly passengers and a pregnant women have been forced to walk from Kilmore East to Kilmore.

A lack of bus services in the afternoon, weekends or public holidays are resulting in people walking more than three kilometres, which includes a steep incline on the way into Kilmore.
Resident Annie Goble said she often offered to drive three to four people a week from Kilmore East to Kilmore.

“If they’re female I usually pick them up, I’d worry if women would accept rides from the wrong person,” she said.

“I picked a 19-year-old last week, she was struggling up the hill to Kilmore and was worried about her safety.

“The current bus timetable is set up for commuters, but it doesn’t take lower socio-economic groups into account or elderly people needing to attend medical appointments during the day.”

Ms Goble, also a Mitchell Shire councillor, said there should be more services available and also the route should include The Kilmore and District Hospital.

“Once I picked up a pregnant woman walking with a stroller – she had a 3pm appointment at Kilmore hospital and there were no afternoon buses to take her there,” she said.

“A friend from Kilmore East also picked up a Vietnam veteran the other day, walking into town to visit friends.

“It distresses me that in such a wealthy country we can’t even supply a proper bus service to keep our community connected, supported and safe.

“It is the poor, disabled and elderly who suffer the most while we drive around in our cars and in some cases don’t even think about their disadvantage.”

Ms Goble has raised the issue with the State Government for the past eight years.

Previous Kilmore resident Sara Tucker told the Review she could recount many times the lack of bus services put her at a disadvantage.

“Five years ago my family missed the last bus back into Kilmore, I remember our parents walking my 12-year old brother and I up the hill late at night, dodging cars from the busy road,” she said.

The student now studies in Hawthorn and has missed out on night classes in order to get to get back in time for the last bus to Kilmore.

“The services need to be more regular,” she said.

“People who are of lower socio-economic groups can’t afford to take a taxi or Uber into town.

“Being stranded and deciding to take a taxi can be the difference between paying rent that week  or not.”

Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said she was finalising an extended route that would get people to the hospital and shopping centre – planned to be operational by mid-2020.

“I’ve been listening to the needs of the Kilmore community which is why I worked to secure funding for additional bus services for the town,” she said.