Tarneit, April 25: Getting admission into a foreign university of her dream, Shikha (23) thought it was the end of her hardship. But little did she know it was just the beginning, when becoming a Tarneit resident.

Every day, she begins the journey from her residence in Tarneit on foot for over 1.80 km which will only help her reach a nearby bus stop from where she begins her actual journey of 90 minutes using the bus, V/Line train followed by Metro Rail.

Shikha walks 1.8 km everyday from Tarneit

Shikha hails from Punjab (India) and is doing her Masters in Practising Accounting from Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn campus.

Most of the time, Shikha’s classes are scheduled in the night. And that is a concern for SAFETY. Returning back home at 10 pm, Shikha covers the same distance alone walking in darkness.

“At present, there are two things that worry me. First is the walk I have to take in the night and secondly the temperature is going to drop further in coming days which will only make it difficult to walk in the chilly winds.

“There is an urgent need of Bus Stop near Thurston Avenue where I reside,” Shikha said.

Shikha is able to earn an average of 40$ per day and she will have to spend 20$ on transport if she choose to take a cab from her residence to bus stop. The cost will double for vice versa.

“Cab is not an option for me. I take it only on those rare nights when I just can’t walk.”

Like Shikha, many international students reside in Tarneit, a suburban growth corridor, situated 25km from Melbourne CBD. This suburb houses over 20,000 Indians, especially with its low cost of renting.

This suburb has also had its share of criminal activities, youth rampage, burglaries and home invasions.

And lack of end-to-end bus-stops further aggravates safety for Tarneit residents.

The Victorian Government’s Public Transport Guidelines For Land Use and Development of 2013 aimed to provide public transport to residential localities within a radius of 300-400 meters.

Plainly, it means that one should get any means of public transport whether a bus stop or train station within 400 meter from one’s residence.

“95% of residential land uses in established and urban growth areas to be designed to allow access to public transport services within 400 meters safe walking distance.

As a guideline, bus and tram stops should be located every 300 meters and reflect the location of key attractors,” the guidelines stated.

When Bharat Times contacted Public Transport Victoria (PTV), officials remained mute on the above PTV Charter guidelines.

A PTV spokesperson told BT, “Transport for Victoria is committed to improving and encouraging more people to the use of public transport in the area and will continue to work with the Government, PTV and V-Line to provide appropriate services for residents in the area.”

Tarneit Station, which was constructed as part of the Regional Rail Link, was opened in June 2015. As part of that, a new bus network was worked out by the PTV and was launched with the same aim as like the general guidelines.

“PTV aims to have most homes in urban areas of Wyndham (including Tarneit) within 400 meters of a bus route. The proposed changes will bring over 20,000 more residents within reach of public transport,” stated the PTV’s plan.

BT has identified over 30 localities where the people cannot access bus-stops within 700 meter of walk. The maximum walking distance one has to cover can go as much as 2.6 km.

It is believed that the entire suburb of Tarneit will constitute more such localities.

The spokesperson said, “Tarneit Station is serviced by six local bus routes which coordinate with train services and offers the largest car park on the V/Line network.”

For Anand Bhati and Shweta Singh, a working couple residing in Thurston Avenue , Tarneit, getting a parking space at the station is like a ware-fare they undergo every morning for catching the regional train towards Southern Cross for work.

Tarneit residents Anand Bhati, Shweta Singh and son Devansh battle it out

Shweta said, “We used to walk and get the bus for reaching the station. But we went through some serious problems and switched back to car. Now, we have to match timings of each other while going to work and return back home.

“Even that’s another trouble since getting a car parked at the station after 7am is next to impossible.”

While Anand said, “Mostly, the parking space is full at the station, we have to leave the car in muddy area adjoining the road. It’s a kind of parking space many of us have created for ourselves.

“It’s a risky situation and thus we would any day prefer using bus service over car if the bus-stop was accessible.”

Another working woman, Garima Sisidiya, who works as a banker, goes through the same situation.

She said “I don’t remember the last time I got the chance to park my car at the station”.

Parking space across the streets in the residential area surrounding the train station also gets jam-packed with hundreds of cars. Left without an option, many car owners who park on the nature strip; cop parking fines as well.

All these “problems can be solved if the PTV comes true on its plan,” Ms Sisidiya said.

Meanwhile, ‘Transport Matters Party’ (TMP) – a new political party is officially registered and will voice concerns about the state of Victoria’s public transport system including trams, trains and buses.

TMP intends to make a difference for people who are challenged by public transport both in metropolitan and regional areas.

Rod Barton, party leader said that TMP “will participate in the 2018 Victorian State Election with one clear objective – to give back a voice to local communities,” in transportation matters.

Shakti Thakur with RD

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