Running at 601 percent

Illustration by Amber Francis

It’s fair to say Huntingdale station and the nearby 601 bus stop are rudimentary and not as sophisticated as most other train station and bus interchanges. Lack of shelter at the interchange, poor accessibility, car parks and roads to cross would be bearable if the actual service itself was up to scratch.

But back to the bus interchange for a second. Weren’t we promised a nice shiny new upgrade that would solve all our woes? That was back in 2014, before the November State Election. The Victorian Labor Party promised $5 million for the Huntingdale upgrade. In September 2015, Monash University said it would contribute $200,000 to this upgrade. An integrated bus, taxi, car and train inter-change was promised to better connect transport links, provide shelter and improve safety.

It’s 2016 now and we still haven’t seen any significant progress. The local Member of Parliament for Oakleigh, Labor’s Steve Dimopoulos, said on Twitter “planning work was well advanced” and a final design could be expected in June. Construction will begin later this year, with work to be finished by late 2017. Public Transport Victoria did not respond to queries regarding construction or proposed designs.

One and a half years since the election isn’t a long time to wait, so let’s not point the finger at whichever party was or is now in power. It’s the lack of consultation and information that is more problematic, but the issue of upgrading some facilities is minor compared to the actual problem – the 601 bus service is not good enough.

Monash does a survey of the 601 every March and August, and between 2011 and the March 2015, patronage grew by 74% and is now the busiest bus route in Victoria. More than 6000 Monash students use the route each day. But in that time, the service has never changed from a bus frequency of every four minutes.

Back in 2014, Monash’s then Vice-Chancellor Margaret Gardner said the 601’s “existing facilities are already at capacity”. If it was at capacity two years ago, then that explains why the queue for the 601 stretches around the corner and up Huntingdale Road on an average day. A bus every four minutes in the morning and evening peak doesn’t cut it – students should not be stuck at Huntingdale waiting in line and missing classes because they can’t get on multiple buses in a row. With the car parking pressures at Clayton campus this year, poor public transport services will only become worse if they are left neglected.

Tags : 601BusMonashTransport
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