District residents have the option of using a public transport service which involves vacant seats on school buses.
A service that allows district residents to use vacant seats on school buses will give small communities greater public transport options.
Heathcote and Redesdale-Mia Mia primary schools have opened their school buses to Heathcote, Redesdale, Mia Mia, Costerfield and Mt Camel residents to use the spare seats on daily bus runs.
City of Greater Bendigo’s B-Line Transport Connections Project co-ordinator Toni Grace said the community-based service allowed residents in outer districts to travel between various localities during the school term.
‘‘Rural community members have indicated they often find it difficult to access appointments, training and employment opportunities and social activities due to limited transport options, so having access to the school bus network should assist with this,’’ Ms Grace said.
‘‘The services also link up with public transport timetables for those wanting to travel into Bendigo or on to Melbourne.’’
It also gives those who live out of town and may not have access to other transport the chance to get into town to go to medical appointments, banking or shopping, Ms Grace said.
Ms Grace said fares were affordable and were based on distance.
While the service is one that has been running for a while, Ms Grace said it was not widely known about or heavily utilised.
‘‘When we did community engagement works under transport connections, we discovered a lot of what the community wants (in the way of transport) was on school bus routes,’’ she said.
Ms Grace said the service was for people who wanted to use the buses on a regular basis.
Anyone who wants to use the school buses needs to obtain a general public travel form from either school.
They also have to have a police check or working with children’s certificate and a pay a small fee.
To ensure bus drivers know to collect passengers, users must also provide details of the regular days and times they intend to travel, Ms Grace said.
Heathcote Primary School principal Cindi Bruechert encouraged people to make the most of the service.
‘‘It is wonderful to be able to share these services with the broader community and provide regular and reliable transport options for rural community members,’’ she said.
Bus timetables are available from the Heathcote and Redesdale-Mia Mia primary schools, Heathcote Neighbourhood House and City of Greater Bendigo office in Heathcote.
For information, contact Ms Grace on 5434
Heathcote Primary School students (front, left to right) Kate Bottom-Sawyers, Elizabeth Butler, (second front) Daniel Butler, Bodey Abbott, (second back) Kody Johnson and Victor Butler, with (back) Heathcote Primary School principal Cindi Bruechert on one of the school buses that is open to members of the public to also catch.
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