August 8, 2012
STAND near the Wonthaggi bus stop on a cold, wet winter’s day and you see a strange sight: the shelter is empty and the passengers are all huddled behind it.
Waiting for the local bus, Wonthaggi pensioners Mary Tyler and Noelene Mallick (pictured right in the video) are stoical as they brave one of the coldest days of winter so far.
Mrs Tyler says the bus shelter is useless. In winter, passengers are exposed to freezing south-westerlies and driving rain. In summer, they get the full force of the afternoon sun.
“The old bus stop was much more sheltered,” Mrs Mallick says.
Liz Mulcahy is waiting at the bus stop for a bus back to Phillip Island after her first bus trip to Wonthaggi. “I had no idea it was this bad,” she says. “The shelter’s terrible. No one uses it. All the seats are wet.”
Mrs Tyler and Mrs Mallick say one of the worst aspects is the lack of public toilets. “Particularly for the elderly,” Mrs Mallick says. “It’s the first thing you look for when you get off the bus.”
The old stop was outside the old Wonthaggi information centre, between the library and police station. There was cover under the information centre verandah, public toilets, good lighting and security from the police station.
The Department of Transport (now Public Transport Victoria) moved the bus stop to its current site in Billson Street, next to the Safeway car park, about three years ago.
A Bass Coast Council spokeswoman said the department asked the council's Transport Connections Committee for recommendations on a site for a new bus interchange that could handle both V/Line and local services. The committee recommended three sites - the existing site in Watt Street, near Mitchell House in Murray Street and the current site in Billson Street - and the department chose the latter.
The most bizarre aspect of the move was the new “shelter”. About five meters high, it dwarfs passengers, faces due west and does anything but shelter. Similar shelters are situated at Anderson and Koo Wee Rup, but none is as badly situated as Wonthaggi's.
A Public Transport Victoria spokeswoman said the new style of tall bus shelter ‘‘has been carefully designed to be high enough for coaches to fit under, so that it provides shelter across the waiting area and bus while luggage is being loaded''.
She said the interchange met the Disability Discrimination Act’s accessibility requirements, ''is close to shopping centre facilities and has adequate car parking and toilets nearby''.
Clearly no one from PTV has stood in the rain waiting for a bus or searched desperately for a nearby toilet.
The council and PTV both said there were no plans to move the bus stop.