Posted by Andy Bell
As I prepare to travel overseas for five weeks I must admitted that I am troubled.
I am worried about a friend.
I fear I may never see him … or her again.
The 509 bus may not be here in three weeks time. The bean counters have decreed this quirky little enterprise that chugs up & down Hope Street Brunswick doesn’t cut it.
On the face of it doesn’t make sense.
A tad over two kilometres up the street and then back.
Uneconomic, a throw-back and a waste of public funds say the great and the good.
Their spreadsheets back them up, but their eyes (& hearts) would tell them a different tale if any of the decision makers had bothered getting on board.
As we all know, it is the journey that tells the story.
What the 509 does so well is to keep many ageing residents who live along and close by Hope Street out and about.
Dozens of them use the bus for what I am sure many of them think of as “just” a trip to the market or the doctor.
But it is so much more.
This little bus keeps so many people truly connected to the wider local community, a community which many of them came to as migrants half a century ago.
They say g’day and ciao to strangers who serve them is shops or to other passengers.
Not much cost benefit there is there.
Home is where the heart is, but the people & places around that home pump the blood through the heart.
Without that supply, the quality of life crumbles.
But how do you put a number on that ?
I am the son of an accountant and auditor.
I am not a complete financial naif.
But I still ask this question: how many of the elderly men & women on the 509 will, after September 29th will be stuck in their homes for most of the week because that little bus is no longer there.
They will be less active and, in all likelihood, more prone to illness of all sorts.
More than likely, they will be less happy.
Dealing with all of that will cost money.
And much more.
The 509 is one of the things that catapulted me into a love affair with Brunswick when I moved here four years ago.
Its existence & vitality told me a real community existed here, one which believed “we’re all in this together”.
And it subtly told me that this was no organic panini of a suburb floating on a sea of latte … a soy milk latte sea.
You dig ?
This Sunday there will be a rally to try to save this transport of delight.
1PM Gillon Oval.
The fight isn’t over, but it’s a tough one to win.
A balance sheet triumphs all too often over human experience without a definable price tag.
Say it ain’t so Joe.
I fly out on Wednesday for a trip of wide horizons.
I wonder when I fly home in mid-October whether the 509 will still be there up the road.
I hope so.
If not, my home will be poorer in ways I can’t even start to quantify.