About the project

Transport is the second biggest carbon polluter in Victoria, responsible for 25% of greenhouse gases. Costs are also rocketing. Nationwide, we spend an average of $379.90 a week on transport, according to the AAA’s Transport Affordability Index - 15.2% of the average income. This includes over $100 on fuel. Securing alternatives to fossil-fuel powered transport is urgent.

At Bass Coast we’re also warmly welcoming back hundreds of thousands of tourists. But, while we’re highly grateful that Aussies continue to holiday at home, visitor traffic surges put further pressure on our roads, exacerbating congestion in our town centres. Our limited public transport system is unfit also – re-enforcing disadvantage, social isolation and reducing accessibility.

Yet, Council is passionately advocating for and driving change.

With the assistance of Victorian Government funding of $50,000, in partnership with the Department of Transport and Destination Phillip Island, we have undertaken a study into an innovative Demand Responsive Transport network, with a pilot earmarked for Phillip Island and San Remo.

Bird's eye view of ocean and bay of Cowes, Phillip Island

1.2 million day-trippers and 832,000 overnight guests visited Phillip Island in 2021. On-demand buses will hugely benefit tourists.

The vast majority of councils across Australia actively seek State and Federal Government contributions to fund new public transport initiatives.

Council continues to hold meetings with Federal and State Ministers, Shadow Ministers, candidates, Advisors, the Department of Transport , Institute of Sensible Transport and Destination Phillip Island to progress this pilot.

Further, our advocacy efforts are strengthened through our membership of OneGippsland, Peri Urban Group of Rural Councils (Victoria), and the Municipal Association of Victoria.

On-demand transport benefits community, commuters, visitors and business.

It’s faster, more convenient, and customisable to tourism peaks.

Social disadvantage will be reduced by enhancing options for those who do not drive - increasing access to employment, medical services, shopping and socialising.

The economy will also benefit. Up to 49 additional commuters and 85 additional trips would be attracted into town a day. It will unlock workforce cohorts that are disadvantaged by our current transport system, which is over-reliant on the use of private vehicles.

It’s also non-polluting. With a fully electric fleet, our current plan avoids up to 372 tonnes of carbon emissions compared to diesel buses. Fuel will also cost 80% less.

Locals also really want EV buses, to embody our strong culture of sustainability. Trialling on-demand EV buses in regional Victoria will be a first too.

The number of vehicles on the road will also be drastically reduced: up to 223 trips a day are expected during peak periods, 178 off-peak.

This is just the start. If the Phillip Island and San Remo pilot is a success, we’ll seek to roll the program out Bass Coast wide.

Annual operating costs are estimated at $1million.

Electric buses will total $1.6 million.

With an inclusive 50% operating cost contingency, the three-year trial is anticipated to cost $6.25 million.

While this seems high, the positive impacts to local business, community inclusion and our environment are priceless. State investment in the service today, will be multiplied many times over.