City bus service pulls up short

Mount Gambier City Council will push for greater funding for bus services, after its first review of system in 15 years the council will prepare a submission to the State Government seeking an updated local public transport system, after the council conducted its first review of the system since 2005.

Currently the council provides and maintains 115 bus stops and 39 shelters across the fixed routes and allocates an annual budget of $30,000 for installation and maintenance of bus shelters.

The council also delivers annual audits of bus shelter infrastructure and a rolling program aimed at bringing bus stops and shelters up to code standards. However, the recent review found that despite Mount Gambier growing and evolving, “the public bus transport service delivery model has remained largely unchanged for over 30 years”.

In addition, with over 80% of passengers in 2019 being non-student concessions, the current service is heavily relied upon by those with no alternative option. “For most of our residents, the current public bus transport service falls short in providing a suitable transport option,” the review noted.

“This is backed up by the regional public transport services benchmark this benchmark indicates the current Mount Gambier public bus service is providing a service that is below the benchmark for a town that has a population of less than 3000 people.”

The review also found that public transport was important for social inclusion, with Mount Gambier’s migrant population “over-represented” within existing passenger numbers due to a lack of alternative transport options.

“A quality transport system increases equitable access to housing, education, employment, health care and social engagement, enhancing the wellbeing of our community,” the review said. “The current standard of council’s public bus service infrastructure may not demonstrate a commitment to a high-quality public transport services within Mount Gambier.”

While public transport services are funded and managed by the South Australian government, the council remains the provider of associated infrastructure and retains an important role in advocating for the current and future needs of Mount Gambier.

Council noted the report and resolved that council prepare a draft submission to the state Department of Infrastructure and Transport (DIT).

The draft submission would emphasise that access to effective public transport services in and around Mount Gambier and the Lower South East is important to the community. It would also emphasise the existing service is inadequate and in need of major change and the current service delivery mode for mass passenger transport in Mount Gambier has historically been underfunded and remains under-funded.

In addition, the draft submission would cover the absence of any intertown public transport services in the region further, compounding the inadequacy of existing public transport services. This, the resolution notes, further highlights the “inadequate historical funding of public transport services in and around the regional centre Mount Gambier” over many decades.

The resolution also calls for the DIT to review the suitability of the ‘dial a ride’ concept, or similar, as proposed by the Office for Public Transport around 2005. The report would be reviewed by council before its submission and would see council work collaboratively with

local community groups, local public transport service providers and relevant departments to improve accessibility to public transport services within Mount Gambier.

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