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Reprieve for tourist shuttle

01 Apr 2010

The Melbourne Tourist Shuttle has escaped the City of Melbourne’s razor for now while council officers investigate alternative funding sources for the service.

Councillors on March 9 voted to extend the contract to run the four-bus service until June 30 next year.  And it wants a report back by August 31 on how much money can be raised via advertising on bus stops as well as inside and outside
the buses.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle believes businesses which benefit from the bus should contribute to its $1.4 million annual operating costs.  Other councillors believe the bus should be viewed more generally as improving the visitor experience to Melbourne as a whole.

Cr Kevin Louey says businesses pay 70 per cent of the city’s rate revenue and it would be reasonable to fund the tourist shuttle service in return.

Docklands Chamber of Commerce President Keith Rankin addressed the Future Melbourne Committee meeting on March 9. He was backed by at least 45 written submissions from Docklands businesses (out of a total of 59 items of correspondence).

Mr Rankin said he acknowledged that the service ought to show actual benefit for the money invested and he urged Docklands businesses to help find alternative funding options.

But he also said it was unreasonable to expect individual businesses to pay for services which returned benefit to the general community.

“It’s like putting up Christmas decorations,” he said.  

“If there is a need for it, then it is reasonable for everyone to pay for it via rates and taxes.”

“If they want to close down things that are available to people for no charge, then they should close down the parks.  It’s the same principle,” he said.

The Docklands News March online survey unanimously supported the retention of the tourist shuttle.

Among comments received were:

Removal would be devastating to the precinct and Docklands;

This is a valuable service which brings much needed patronage and exposure to the area. For Docklands in particular, the area needs all the support it can get as it is still struggling as a sustainable commercial district;

I believe it’s a great service. I meet many tourists coming to shop. They seem very happy to spend because they have saved money on transport; and

Definitely should continue. Visitors love the service as it’s an informative and comfortable experience. The tourist shuttle is more highly-regarded by tourists than the City Circle Tram (which is over-run with locals taking a free ride).

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