Member for Morwell Russell Northe is calling upon the State Government to ensure that persons residing within restricted areas of Melbourne are not breaking COVID-19 rules and travelling to and from the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland regions via public transport.
Mr Northe said, “Whilst it’s all good and well that there are some checkpoints on the road network, it is imperative that public transport is being monitored adequately to ensure Melbourne residents are not frequenting our region without a legitimate reason”.
Mr Northe said that he had been contacted by a number of local residents and V/Line employees who feel that more needs to be done to protect public transport staff and the local community from the potential impacts of COVID-19. Mr Northe also said restrictions should apply to whom can access V/Line trains on the metropolitan network.
“There is absolutely no legitimate reason why commuters travelling between Pakenham and Melbourne and return need to board V/Line trains and I call upon the Government and the Minister to ensure such practices are ceased immediately”, Mr Northe said.
“Commuters from Pakenham through to Melbourne are able to utilise and frequent Metro services and therefore there is no justification why these same commuters should be jumping aboard Gippsland V/Line services”, Mr Northe said.
“If the Government was fair dinkum about stopping the spread of this virus into regional areas then it would act to stop metropolitan commuters from using V/Line services when there is no necessity”, Mr Northe said.
Mr Northe said greater oversight was required at Pakenham station to stop commuters accessing V/line services and the same at Southern Cross and Flinders Street station on return trips. Mr Northe said he was also concerned that if these rules are not changed then who is going to police and enforce the mandatory wearing of masks by persons in restricted postcodes on the public transport network.
“I have had many, many people contact my office venting their disgust in the fact that Melbourne commuters have been using Gippsland V/Line services and most likely against the restrictions which is a disgraceful situation for our public transport staff and for our local community to be put at risk”, Mr Northe said.
“Having raised this situation with local police last week, I am pleased to learn that greater vigilance will take place at local train stations, and one hopes that if commuters are caught doing the wrong thing, then they are penalised accordingly”, Mr Northe said.