By Tyler Wright
A Monbulk bus stop reopened yesterday after its temporary closure in early March and concern from local residents.
Star Mail spoke to residents about the impact the Hunter Street and Olinda Monbulk Road bus stop closure would have on the community after being met with a cover over the 696 bus route stop – PTV citing ‘operational issues’ as the cause.
Monbulk resident Frances Loke catches the bus everyday to and from her job as Lollipop Lady at Montrose Primary School during the school term and said the bus is a key link between Monbulk and Mount Dandenong.
“If I leave Montrose at 9:00am then at 9:26am I can take the Upper Ferntree Gully bus which takes me to Olinda – then I can hop on the bus at Olinda, then I’m at home at 10 past 10,” Frances said.
But without the accessibility of this route, Frances’ waiting times between buses could reach 20 minutes or more.
To get to Montrose, Frances would need to walk down to the town’s Woolworths, catch the bus to Mount Evelyn, and catch a connecting bus to her destination.
The afternoons would consist of catching the Chirnside Park bus to Mount Evelyn, connecting with the Lilydale bus eventually stopping at Monbulk-Silvan Road for her to walk home.
“Because we’re right on the mountain we’re a fair distance from a railway line – It’s pretty much buses or nothing,” Frances said.
“It’s such a pretty trip from Monbulk to Olinda…the Olinda Tea House, we’ve got the Diggers Club… there’s so much along that route if people just realised and took advantage of it.”
Jo Reed, Frances’ neighbour, started a paper petition for PTV to re-open the bus stop, with signatures from locals.
“It’s doing a disservice to the population as they’re ageing,” Jo said of the decision to close the stops.
“It’s one of the reasons we bought the house on the corner where we are – my husband is retired, and if he can’t drive the car he can walk across the road and get the bus.”
The alternative bus stop options provided by PTV were the Emerald-Monbulk/Main Road stop and the Hacketts Road/ Olinda-Monbulk Road stop – both a fair walk.
“Up the windy road with no footpath – up the hairpin bend – or down in the town,” Jo said.
“It’s such an inconvenience.”
A Department of Transport spokesperson told the Star Mail the bus stop reopened on Monday 9 May and it will continue to work with our bus operators to monitor the network.
“We apologise for any inconvenience to passengers and thank the community for their patience.”
Frances hopes bringing public transport to the attention of Monbulk residents will increase patronage on local bus routes.
The service runs between 9:00am and 3:00pm between Monday and Friday.