BY SIMONE KEALY
A group of five young people from Ballarat are fighting for better buses in the regional city as part of the YMCA’s Victorian Youth Parliament program.
The group, Y Ballarat, said their buses are often late, too early or overcrowded, and are pushing for radical change for more efficient bus services.
Group member Alexander Simmonds, 18, said the increase in Ballarat’s population prompted the push for better public transport.
“Because of lockdowns and because of Covid, lots of people from Melbourne and the areas that are locked down the most are moving to regional areas,” Mr Simmonds said.
“[As a result] it’s quite busy in the public transport in Ballarat.”
Mr Simmonds said it was important to have this change as a lot of people relied on public transport to travel throughout Ballarat.
“Especially for students travelling to and from school, it is a bit of an issue because you really can’t get the wrong time,” he said.
“It might give youth more independency, so they can actually get out, socialise with friends and [have] less dependency on family members.”
The City of Ballarat’s executive manager of economic growth James Guy said the bus system in the city could be “vastly better”.
“The feedback that we get is that it just takes too long,” Mr Guy said.
“There’s no convenience factor around the bus.”
Mr Guy said that Ballarat citizens wanted to use the bus, but the inefficacy hindered them.
“People would actually like to leave the car at home, they’d like to walk and cycle more… but they would love to catch the bus,” he said.
Mr Guy added the work Y Ballarat is doing was “great”.
“It’s such an important issue for young people, but actually for everyone,” he said.
“[More efficient buses] would make a real, tangible difference to people in Ballarat.”
YMCA’s Victorian Youth Parliament is a volunteer program consisting of 120 young people who come together to debate Bills they have written themselves.
The Program’s Youth Governor Georgia Mackenzie said efficient public transport was “really vital” for regional areas.
“Particularly for young people, particularly for vulnerable people, it is really important,” Ms Mackenzie said.
“It’s a really interesting bill and having grown up in regional Victoria. I definitely relate to the struggle of regional public transport.”
The Ballarat team are expected to virtually participate in the program on September 19 to debate their bill.