Ararat Rural City mayor Glenda McLean has labelled Lowan MP Emma Kealy’s complaints about Ararat’s bus and train connections as ‘off the rails’.
The state MP last week released complaints from her constituents about delays at Ararat station between bus services from Horsham and other western areas and train services to Ballarat and Melbourne.
Ms Kealy also said she was recently contacted by a resident waiting at the Ararat station for a bus to Horsham who was concerned about a number of elderly people forced to stand up while they waited for a connecting service.
“This lady has worked all over Australia and is a regular public transport user,” Ms Kealy said.
“She believes the Melbourne to Horsham service is the worst she has experienced due to connection delays and lack of facilities, and has even considered paying for a taxi home to avoid the whole public transport experience.
“It is disappointing that due to poor connectivity of our regional public transport services passengers are being forced to sit on the filthy ground as there were insufficient seats at the Ararat Station.”
Cr McLean has responded to Ms Kealy’s use of the complaints to campaign against the state government and launch a survey to present in parliament
“I was astonished to read MP Kealy’s V/Line complaints in Tuesday’s Ararat Advertiser” Cr McLean said.
“I’m not sure if Emma ever gets on a train, but I can assure her the service is fantastic. As a regular on V/Line trains and connecting buses I find the professional staff and the condition of trains and coaches to be excellent.”
“Of course there’s been extra stress on the service recently with track works on the Ballarat Line and the Ararat V/Line staff had a real challenge in managing the extra coach passenger transfers.
“The additional daily train services organized by the state government from this February have been a boon to the Ararat municipality and bring so much benefit to locals going regularly to Melbourne.”
Cr McLean said the complaints related to Ms Kealy had caused ‘outrage’ in Ararat.
“In my regular talks with the V/Line folks, it’s also gratifying how many extra people are now coming from Melbourne to Ararat for day trips,” Cr McLean said.
“The passengers I speak to on the train say it’s an easy one day trip to check out the rich history of Ararat and district, the independent shops and have lunch before returning to Southern Cross Station.”
A spokesperson for Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan accused Ms Kealy of hypocrisy over regional rail.