A privately-run commuter bus from Mickleham has proven so popular that extra services have been added as the suburb waits to be added to the public transport network.

In January, MAB and Gibson Property Corporation launched the Merrifield Connect bus service, which runs between the Merrifield estate and Craigieburn train station, with stops at Mickleham Primary School and Craigieburn Central shopping centre.

Residents are being asked to pay $20 a year to use the buses. More than 7500 trips have been made since the service was launched on January 30.

To help meet demand, Merrifield has added extra morning and evening peak services, including new express services between Merrifield and Craigieburn train station.

It is believed to be the first time a developer in Victoria has launched its own bus service.

Merrifield community development manager Tennille Bradley-Ow said the service was addressing a gap in the public transport network.

“Merrifield Connect has provided a much-needed transport solution for residents,” she said. “The growing numbers of bus service users, particularly among those who do not have access to a car, demonstrates a need for locals to be connected to schools, public transport, shopping centres and other essential services.”

According to the 2016 Census, 79.5 per cent of Mickleham residents rely on cars to get to work. Four per cent catch trains.

Merrifield resident Coral Murtha said the service had reduced her commute by
20 minutes a day.

“I think it is a fantastic initiative,” she said.

A public bus service along Donnybrook Road is expected to start in 2019. The bus will run between Mickleham and Craigieburn.