SOUTH Gippsland’s Transport Connections Advisory Committee is recommending to the Department of Transport that the summer bus service between Foster and Tidal River be continued on a permanent basis for 12 weeks from the start of December until the end of February each year.
The service is also recommended to head off to Tidal River from Foster at 8.30am instead of the trial’s 7.30am time because although the departure had originally been chosen to link in with the V/Line coach timetable, it was too early to attract teenagers, and the Advisory Committee believed anyone travelling in by V/Line could use the gap between services to get coffee and breakfast.
The recommendation has been made following the recent completion of the second trial version of the service that operated for six weeks from mid-December until the school holidays ended at the start of February.
Although patronage for beach visiting was not as high as had been hoped due to unseasonable cool summer weather on most of the Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays that the service operated, the trial was successful in terms of serving tourists.
“I don’t recall any really hot days occurring on days that the service operated,” coach driver Alex Moon of Moon’s Buslines reported.
The service ran two return trips on the weekdays and one return trip on the Saturdays except for Christmas Day.
Mr. Moon noted, “Among the 86 trips taken during the trial, the majority were backpackers travelling to and from camping at Wilsons Promontory after reaching Foster on the V/Line coach service.
“There were also some who used the service to come into Foster for few hours during their stay at the Prom.”
He added, “Not many young people from the district used the service to go to the beach, however teenagers from a Yanakie family used it a few times to travel into Foster and back”.
South Gippsland Shire’s Director Community Services Jan Martin said that Council was very pleased with the Advisory Group’s recommendations, though she expected that the Department of Transport would be likely to review the service annually.
“Backpacker tourists were a key group that we wanted this transport project to assist so it was successful from that point of view even though it wasn’t well patronised by locals, although I believe it would be if there was favourable beach weather,” she said.
“After two trials over three years, I feel we’ve had enough trials, but it is up to the Department of Transport to make the decision about whether they want to invest in the service or not.”