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Bendigo's tourist trams, one of the central Victorian city's best-known attractions, are proposing to open their doors again to local commuters.
Authorities hope that from April, people will be able to buy a yearly commuter ticket which is expected to cost $70-80.
The proposal is a leap back to Bendigo's progressive past, when people would ride trams into the city centre from suburbs such as Golden Square and Eaglehawk.
That service ended in 1972 when the tramways' then owner, Victoria's State Electricity Commission, closed it down.
The decision was hugely contentious and it took a group of local vigilantes, who welded a tram to the tracks late one night, to stop the network from being removed altogether.
Heritage group's progressive solutionThe episode led to the creation of the organisation that owns and runs the trams, now known as Bendigo Heritage Attractions.
Its chief executive, Peter Abbott, said he has been looking at how the tram service can improve.
"Our visitation for trams is pretty static and it hasn't grown for many years," he said.
"For Bendigo tourism, the overnight stays might be static but the day trips have really increased over the last five years.
"We think there's more of a market there for a short ride passenger … rather than taking the whole tour."
In response, a new ticketing system — including the commuter pass — will be introduced, in part to get more people to visit the city's tram depot, but also to boost local passenger numbers.
"Paying for parking now in the CBD area of Bendigo can be discouraging," Mr Abbott said.
"So we want people to use the tram instead of using their car and be part of the sustainable transport plans for Bendigo.
There have been regular calls down the years for the trams to be made available as a public transport service and for the track network to be expanded.
The remaining section of track runs through Bendigo from the Central Deborah Goldmine in the south to the Joss House Chinese Temple in North Bendigo.
Suggestions for new sections of track running to the city's train station or hospital have been dismissed in the past due to the presumed cost.
Over the past couple of years, however, the city's rail service has been expanded under the Bendigo Metro project.
As recently as 2014, a study was ordered to look at whether an extension of the tram network was viable for the city's public transport plans.
But again, the financial outlay was found to be prohibitive.
Nonetheless, public transport has re-emerged as a hot topic due to Bendigo's predicted population growth.
It is forecast the city could be home to 200,000 people — about double the current total — by 2050.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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