Cold discomfort for bus passengers

Patrick Solomons, right, and Neil at the site of the former bus shelter in Kingsclere Avenue, Keysborough. 237804_02 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A bureaucratic impasse over a removed bus-stop shelter is leaving commuters in Keysborough out in the cold.

The bus-stop, in a prime location on Kingsclere Avenue directly opposite Parkmore shopping centre, has been without a shelter for months.

Greater Dandenong Council removed the shelter – “an old council asset” – because it was deemed “structurally unsound”.

Regular commuter and retiree Patrick Solomons says the old Perspex shelter was “one of the best”. It was able to withstand attempts by vandals to smash it, he says.

Mr Solomons has pleaded with the council and the State Government for a replacement – to no avail.

The two tiers of government are pointing at each other to fund the shelter, he says.

Meanwhile, winter approaches for several elderly passengers like Neil who is confined to a wheelchair and another man in his 80s who takes 30 minutes to hobble from Parkmore to the bus stop.

Mr Solomons relies on the route 812, 813 and 815 services to Dandenong for shopping and doctors’ appointments.

“We are the ones who pay for our tickets,” Mr Solomons says – claiming many other “young” passengers don’t.

Engineering director Paul Kearsley said the State Government was responsible for providing bus shelters and other public transport infrastructure.

“As Council does not receive any funding for the provision or maintenance of bus shelters any requests for new or replacement bus shelters should be directed to Public Transport Victoria.”

However according to the Department of Transport, the council has a contract with a private operator oOh! Media for the shelter.

The department is “unable to manage shelters within the locality” until the contract’s expiry in 2025.

In the meantime, the department is only providing advice on suitable locations and infrastructure as well as overseeing appropriate design standards.

“We’re working with the City of Greater Dandenong Council in an advisory role, exploring options to replace the bus shelter and deliver a safe, convenient public transport experience for the Dandenong community,” a department spokesperson said.

According to the department, the council is removing 12 “dilapidated” bus shelters. But there was no word on who is funding any replacements.