Tram study to put decades-long question 'to bed'

A FEASIBILITY study will aim to put the question of whether trams are a viable public transport option for Bendigo to bed.

Member for the Northern Victoria Region and Sport and Recreation Minister Damian Drum announced $80,000 in state government funding this morning for a Bendigo tram plan.

Mr Drum said the question had been raised year-after-year and that the professional study would finally resolve it.

"Many people have often raised the question could the trams be put back to work in a commercial fashion, where running more trams more often on a regulated timetable, could we actually encourage people to park their cars out of town and catch a tram into work, thus easing the congestion?" he said.

"We’re going to get a professional body to look into this issue and we’ll hopefully come up with a very robust report that will give the council and the state government the answers that they’re looking for."

Mr Drum said that if the study found commercial trams were a viable option, and if there was strong community support, it was likely the state government would consider investing in a project to extend Bendigo's tramline.

The study will cost $120,000, with Bendigo Trust contributing $10,000 and the City of Greater Bendigo contributing $30,000.

“To plan for the future to ensure the city continues to be one of the best places to live and work in Australia, Bendigo is developing an Integrated Transport and Land Use Strategy which this study will feed into,” Mr Drum said. 

“Bendigo is a growing city with a population estimated to exceed 140,000 within two decades. This project is designed to link locals and tourists to key tourism and business destinations," he said.

“Building a widely used public transport system will be a key measure of how the city successfully manages that growth.   

“Bendigo is one of very few cities of its size where trams are a suitable public transport option and there are several populated areas in the city where expanding the tramway network could be warranted."

They study will also investigate whether the tramline should be extended for the existing tourist tram service.

Bendigo Trust chief executive officer Tom Seddon said Bendigo was one of few cities which had retained its tram infrastructure and that trams were part of the city's heritage.

He envisages a tourist tram service that would stop at attractions including Sacred Heart Cathedral and the Golden Dragon Museum rather than passing them by. 

He would also like to see the route extend to the View Street arts precinct.

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