AN 86-year-old Swan Hill woman, who singlehandedly raised a petition with almost 700 signatures for a Stradbroke Avenue bus shelter, is still waiting after months of stalling by Public Transport Victoria according to the Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh.
He said Margaret Cooper has done an outstanding job; first with the petition and then getting Swan Hill Rural City Council to not only approve the structure but to pick up its cost.
“The proposed bus shelter is adjacent to the Murray Gardens Retirement Village and is clearly needed there – all year round,” Mr Walsh said.
“Clearly the locals want it, and the council has been so supportive it has actually purchased the shelter and is ready for it to be installed – at Council expense,” he said.
“But the final approval rests with PTV – and there it stays, and stays, and stays. PTV is refusing to move the project forward on the grounds of cost, but Swan Hill Council is paying for it.
“I am urging Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne to intervene immediately and get PTV to actually get on and do its job and make sure this shelter is approved for these people.”
Council’s infrastructure director Svetla Petkova has been pushing for a sign-off from PTV for almost a year – and Ms Cooper’s submission was received in July last year.
In September 2019 she said many of Swan Hill’s senior citizens faced walks of more than a kilometre to reach the nearest bus stop.
She said “residents use the service regularly as a way to gain social contact that they would otherwise not have”.
“Access to bus services means residents are able to maintain a degree of independence and a feeling of self worth.”
Mr Walsh agreed; saying he simply “cannot fathom” how difficult or expensive a project this could be when PTV is getting the shelter itself for free.
“I am now writing to the Minister to see if this ridiculous delay can be brought to a very quick solution and the people of Swan Hill, who need this facility, get what they are politely asking for,” he said.
“And at the same time I am asking the Minster for an explanation of how PTV faces any major cost, or any cost at all, for this project.”