A small win for Better Buses, but still a long way to go


    Elyse Cunningham – Better Buses Coordinator, Friends of the Earth Melbourne

    Over the past couple of years, the Better Buses for the West campaign has been working closely with communities with no public transport in Melbourne’s outer west.

    Back in April 2023, we worked alongside local group Wynbus, to hold the first ever ‘Bus Marathon’ at the Mambourin Estate in Wyndham. We stood alongside residents from the neighbouring communities of Harpley and Cornerstone, to show decision makers how the lack of public transport is impacting the community, and demand action on bus reform.

    Six weeks later in May 2023, we joined residents in the Mt Atkinson Estate in Melton, who face similar issues (living in a community with no shops, and a 30 minute walk to the nearest bus stop) for a second Bus Marathon, calling for action from the Labor government.

    A month later, the ABC published a story about the accusation that the government had been hoarding the Growth Area Infrastructure Contribution (GAIC); a pool of money made up of financial contributions from developers in growing communities, that is meant to go towards infrastructure development. They shared the story of Pawan, a strong supporter and member of our campaign, to demonstrate the suffering that this has caused for community members.

    Ten months later, on April 24th, Labor announced their most recent round of funding through the GAIC.

    The funding for this year includes $61 million dollars for a new bus route between Wyndham Vale station and the Harpley and Cornerstone estates, which will hopefully have a direct benefit for Mambourin too.

    These services will be life changing for many residents of Wyndham, who have been living in public transport deserts and relying on expensive and polluting cars for all of their travel.

    This would not have happened without the hard work of the community, and all involved in the Better Buses campaign. So let’s take a moment to appreciate all that we have achieved so far while we continue to push for basic transport services that the rest of Melbourne enjoys.

    While this is a win for Wyndham and a small step in the right direction for bus reform, there is still a long way to go.

    Pawan, and others in the community of Mt Atkinson, will not benefit from this announcement. Nor will the majority of communities across the West.

    Everyone in the West deserves access to public transport that is reliable and will get us to where we need to go. That is why we need a transformation to a fast, frequent and connected network.

    With some of the fastest growing populations in the country, piecemeal reforms are just a temporary fix. Adding one bus route at a time will not solve the problem, only a transformation of the network will lead to more equity in our city.

    Our campaign is far from over, and we will not give up until Labor commits to a transformation of our broken bus network.

    Our content is a labour of love, crafted by dedicated volunteers who are passionate about the west. We encourage submissions from our community, particularly stories about your own experiences, family history, local issues, your suburb, community events, local history, human interest stories, food, the arts, and environmental matters. Below are articles created by community contributors. You can find their names in the bylines.

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