Transport service helps fill bus void

A COMMUNITY transport service which uses pool cars and voluntary drivers has filled the void for some Warrnambool residents left in limbo by a massive revamp of the city’s bus network.

Richard White, 75, of Eddington Street, who faced the prospect of a kilometre walk on his injured leg to the nearest bus stop, was picked up yesterday by ConnectU,  taken to a medical appointment and assisted with his shopping errands.

Operations manager Brenda Hampson said residents such as Mr White who  could demonstrate they were unable to find suitable alternative transport because of disability or other hindrances could apply to become clients.

“It’s not about cost, it’s about necessity,” she told The Standard.

“We don’t want to take customers away from taxis.

“Clients need to be able to satisfy eligibility criteria and book a trip which incurs a flat fee of $8.”

Wallace Avenue resident Nelda Dow is also seeking alternatives to the bus network after two nearby stops in Moore Street were removed. 

Her closest bus stops are now   both up hills and at 86 years old, she is not keen to tackle the climb.

“It was a good service and people were happy with it,” Mrs Dow said.

“I used to catch the bus a couple of times a week.

“Visually impaired people who attend the Vision Australia centre in Moore Street will also be affected.”

ConnectU is a pilot project funded by the bus industry to fill gaps in the public transport system for the disadvantaged by using spare transport capacity of community organisations.

It operates from an office in Kepler Street and has its own car plus the use of a Warrnambool City Council car twice a week, a Moyne Health Services car for Port Fairy and Koroit, occasional vehicles from other organisations plus Ms Hampson’s own car.

The new network  has added more than 70 stops, but removed some others.

Public Transport Victoria has boasted the revamp provides more than 400 extra services each week including direct buses to Deakin University and special runs starting at 7am for city workers.

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