Gippsland South The Nationals Public Transport Trains Danny O'Brien taxis

The cost of stranded commuters

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien is renewing calls for increased and more reliable passenger services on the Gippsland train line as figures show thousands of dollars are being wasted on taxis for stranded commuters.

Mr O’Brien’s calls come as documents obtained under Freedom on Information (FOI) by Shadow Minister for Public Transport (Regional) and Deputy Leader of The Nationals, Steph Ryan show VLine has spent $102,644.15 on replacement taxis as a result of constant train breakdowns and delays on the Gippsland line in an 18-month period.

“This figure represents more than 620 replacement taxis,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Of those replacement taxis, more than two-thirds cost over $100. In one instance, a taxi from Bairnsdale station cost $753.90 for a single replacement trip.

“This represents not only a significant waste of funds, but it is testament to the unreliable service currently on offer for Gippsland passengers.”

Mr O’Brien said while the Andrews Labor Government recently bragged about hundreds of new train services being added in Victoria, not a single one of them is on the Gippsland line.

“For Wellington Shire and East Gippsland we have just three train services in each direction each day, compared to 19 from Traralgon, 31 from Ballarat and 21 from Bendigo,” Mr O’Brien said.

“I have been campaigning for many years now to correct the imbalance in public transport services between Melbourne and Gippsland and these figures show that the little service we do have is simply not reliable.

“It is a completely inadequate service and is holding back our local economy.”

Mr O’Brien said with Melbourne residents increasingly looking to get out of the city in the wake of the COVID pandemic and realising they can do more and more work from home, there is an opportunity to help build regional development and local jobs by providing these additional services.

“It makes it very hard for us to compete and provide an attractive option for people looking to get out of the city when there are limited train services, particularly beyond Traralgon.

“We also need the Government to act on the continued congestion at the metropolitan end with the development of a plan for a dedicated Gippsland track just like Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo have.

“This is not something that can be continually put on the backburner – the Government needs to act on it now.

“I will continue to work to deliver additional services to Sale and the region to ensure that Gippsland gets a fair deal from this Government.”

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien is calling for more frequent and reliable passenger services on the Gippsland Line.

 

24 March 2021

 

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