SA Best will advocate for a subsidised bus service to Murray Bridge and towns around the region in South Australia's next parliament.
The party plans to spend $3.9 million improving the bus service between Mount Barker and Murray Bridge, which would become the hub of a public transport network reaching out as far as Coonalpyn, Meningie, Swan Reach, Karoonda and Pinnaroo.
Mannum, Tailem Bend, Monteith, Jervois and Wellington would also be connected to the new bus routes.
Separate routes would extend to Langhorne Creek and Goolwa via Strathalbyn.
If the plan became state government policy, transport companies would be able to bid for the right to provide the service on a 12-month trial basis.
SA Best leader Nick Xenophon suggested public transport in the Murraylands would be one of the issues his party would use as a bargaining chip if it wound up holding the balance of power after the March 17 election.
The party’s candidate for Hammond, Kelly Gladigau, said people had told her they found it hard to find work, get to work or travel to medical appointments.
“Public transport services don’t exist, buses are infrequent or the costs of private services are too high,” she said.
“Connecting with their communities for meetings and to join in sport sporting activities and events are out of the question and some can’t even get to see family members and friends.”
Candidate for Heysen John Illingworth said better access to public transport would also help reduce depression and anxiety caused by social isolation.
"The plan offers far-ranging positive benefits overall and builds resilience into our rural communities,” he said.
"When the financial impacts of addressing unemployment, mental health issues and the needs of an ageing community – all shaped to some degree by public transport – are considered, this is a great investment."
But Liberal Member for Hammond Adrian Pederick dismissed the plan as an unfunded aspiration, an item on a wish list.
Whatever the Liberals announced, he said, they would implement if they formed government.
"What I'd like to see is better affordability for bus services into the city," he said.
"What I'm looking at – we'll make an announcement in due time – is a fully funded, affordable transport connection into the city from here in Murray Bridge.
"That's what people have been coming to me about."
He said a train service to Adelaide was not feasible as the commute would be more than two hours.
The Standard also sought comment from Labor candidate Mat O'Brien.