VLine is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on replacement taxis as a result of constant train breakdowns and delays, including on the Traralgon and Bairnsdale lines.
Documents obtained under Freedom of Information (FOI) by Shadow Minister for Public Transport (Regional) Steph Ryan show VLine has spent $343,589 in an 18-month period on replacement taxis.
Taxi trips in Gippsland totalled $102,644.15, including from stations at Bairnsdale, Bunyip, Drouin, Eagle Point, Longwarry, Moe, Morwell, Nar Nar Goon, Rosedale, Sale, Stratford, Traralgon, Warragul and Yarragon.
Some trips cost in the hundreds of dollars, including one from Bairnsdale Station at a cost of $753.90. Nearly two-thirds of the 621 taxi trips in Gippsland cost more than $100.
Ms Ryan said it is an indication of just how often country trains are being cancelled, breaking down or are inaccessible for people with a disability.
“VLine trains are breaking down so often that hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxis have had to be called in to ferry passengers around the state,” Ms Ryan said.
“Gippsland passengers deserve a reliable, fast, modern, comfortable service, but we are missing out because the Andrews Labor Government isn’t prepared to make the investment needed for better train services.
“For more than 2000 replacement taxis to be needed to get train passengers where they need to go over just an 18-month period is an indictment of Daniel Andrews’ neglect of regional Victoria.
“It’s not good enough for country people not to be able to arrive to work or medical appointments on time or for our access to further education and training to be hampered by a train network that doesn’t get us where we need to be.
“The Andrews Labor Government fought tooth and nail for more than a year to hide this information – it’s clear they don’t want Victorians to see this information.”
A total of 2069 in replacement taxis was charged to Victorian taxpayers between July 2018 and November 2019 as a result of VLine train breakdowns, cancellations and accessibility issues.
The Victorian Government has refused to invest in the State’s public transport network, instead relying on the Commonwealth to fund desperately-needed upgrades.