Parkville Gardens commuters continue to wait for better bus services as the Greens seek answers
The Parkville Gardens community stands to wait longer for a more frequent bus service after the state government confirmed it was “continuing to plan” its delivery, leaving commuters frustrated.
Residents have felt short-changed with its public transport options, with only one bus route servicing the relatively isolated neighbourhood, which runs every hour.
Local Greens MPs have long advocated on behalf of the growing community, with Brunswick MP Tim Read having successfully lobbied the state government last year to “demand more” bus services to Parkville Gardens, which was supported by a community petition.
However, the government’s commitment has yet to come to fruition.
The matter was brought back into the spotlight after Greens leader and Member for the Northern Metropolitan Region Samantha Ratnam addressed parliament on May 25 seeking answers from Public Transport Minister Ben Carroll.
“Despite promising funding in last year’s budget to increase the frequency of services on the line, there is still just one bus every hour, meaning residents who want to travel to work, the city or even the supermarket for fresh food need to rely on a single bus every 60 minutes,” she said.
“The area is growing as additional apartment buildings are constructed, including much-needed social and affordable housing—which is very welcome—yet the public transport options are extremely limited.”
In her concluding remarks, she asked, “When will the frequency of services on the 505-bus line increase?”
Mr Carroll responded to the question on June 9, saying the Department of Transport (DoT) was “continuing to plan for delivery of additional services between Moonee Ponds and Melbourne University.”
“This includes discussions with the local bus operator and an analysis of the local road network including the impact of works around Grattan St as part of the Victorian Government’s Big Build.
“I look forward to advising the Member and her community in due course once this work has been finalised.”
However, the Parkville Gardens Residents’ Association, which has long been concerned at the “inadequacy of public transport” to its neighbourhood, was left disappointed that a “clear response” was not provided by Mr Carroll.
“Local residents are forced to rely on their own vehicles to get to work or study or shops. This is unsatisfactory, both from a cost and an environmental point of view,” a statement from the association said.
It said despite extra funding for an improved service having been announced in last year’s state budget, “this has yet to translate into an upgraded timetable”.
The residents’ association applauded Ms Ratnam for having “taken up the issue again in state parliament”.
A DoT spokesperson said, “we are continuing to plan for additional services between Moonee Ponds and Melbourne University.”
“At the same time work continues to deliver the Metro Tunnel which will transform public transport in Melbourne’s inner-north with new stations at Arden and Parkville.”
Mr Carrol said the government was investing $108.5 million in the 2022 State Budget to improve local bus services in “growth areas, implement bus reform, improve accessibility and customer outcomes and to get students to school.”
In June 2021, the government released Victoria’s Bus Plan which set out how it would deliver a modern, productive, environmentally sustainable bus network. •
Caption: Greens Brunswick MP Dr Tim Read has led calls for more bus services to Parkville Gardens for many years.
Photography: Murray Enders