THE state budget funding allocations showed that Wimmera bus services are a priority.
The 2018-19 state budget announced funding that will go towards more buses and new flexiride services across a number of regional towns, including Ararat and Horsham. Horsham and Ararat will share in a state pool of $22.2 million for new bus services.
However, the region missed out on funding to return passenger rail services.
A spokeswoman for Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said the state government will be consulting with the Horsham and Ararat community on how best to improve bus services to meet passenger demands.
She said they were aware of the desire to return passenger rail, however, their focus was on delivering the Murray Basin Rail project and Regional Rail Revival to provide an upgrade to all regional rail lines.
The Western Rail Steering Committee met with Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan on three occasions over the past year about returning rail to Western Victoria.
Southern Grampians Shire Council mayor Mary-Ann Brown said Western Victoria was left with the worst passenger services in the state.
“The minister was quoted saying that ‘all passengers deserve reliable and punctual services - no matter where they live’ and that the Regional Rail Revival – which doesn’t include funding for Western Victoria – ‘shows we are getting on with giving regional Victorians the transport services they deserve’,” she said. “Well we say to Minister Allan, what about what we deserve?”
Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said it was disappointing the budget failed to match The Nationals commitment to undertake a $4 million business case to extend train services to Horsham and Hamilton.