Sustainable Cities have begun working with local groups in a series of bus marathons to connect with communities across the West who are experiencing the most transport disadvantage, and demonstrate the demand for Better Buses in the West.
On Saturday 1st April, We met with community members from Mambourin Estate, along with several Wyndham councillors, Wynbus and Point Cook Action Group in Wyndham Vale for a Bus Marathon to demand for Better Buses for Melbourne’s West!
The nearest bus stop to Mambourin estate is 30 minutes walk away. For many, particularly women and children, this is a huge safety concern. Together the group took a symbolic walk along part of the journey which many of the residents face every day, to gain a deeper understanding, show solidarity with the community and help to raise awareness of the issue.
Wyndham Councillors Cr. Susan McIntyre, Mayor of Wyndham City, Cr. Peter Maynard, Cr. Robert Szatkowski, Cr. Sahana Ramesh and Cr. Jasmine Hill patiently heard the challenges of the local residents, and expressed their support for increased bus services in new growth areas, and the introduction of on-demand buses.
Wyndham saw an increase in nearly 35,000 residents when compared to population data three years ago and has the fastest population growth in the country. As one resident described, "houses are popping up like mushrooms after the rain!"
To meet the needs of this growing community, we urgently need improved public transport options.
Residents were promised a Mambourin Train Station which is “Just a five-minute walk, cycle or bus ride from every Mambourin home”, however there are still no commitments around timing or funding for train station construction…
Locals spend two hours stuck in traffic daily to commute to work, and the amount of time spent in traffic has affected their mental health and standard of living. As there are no train stations or bus stops nearby, some families were forced to purchase a second car to drive to the nearest train station or for school drop-offs, which adds to the cost-of-living pressures.
Families share that they have to organise carpooling with other residents for school drop-offs as the local public school does not have school buses. The amount of time spent organising carpooling just so their children can get to school adds unnecessary stress to families when they should have public transport to access fundamental needs such as education.
We spoke to Nasreen who recounted her experience of walking to the bus stop in winter. She is a shift worker and starts early in the morning, every day she has to brave the cold and walk 40 minutes in the dark just to get to work. As daylight saving ends, she feels concerned at how dark it is going to be when she gets home from work at night. She feels afraid to walk across the bridge with no lighting, and smashed glass all over the footpath.
Communities in Melbourne’s West are sick and tired of empty promises, and they deserve better! The Bus Marathon was an incredible success, and we plan to amplify this campaign in other areas where communities are affected until the State Government respond to our demands! Stay tuned for the next Bus Marathon event and follow the Bus Marathon Facebook page for updates.
If you want to get on board and help these residents and other communities across the West have access to Better Buses, you can sign up to volunteer here, or join one of our collective meetings here.