City agency steers shuttle bus service

City agency steers shuttle bus service

Country agency is driving to break barriers for local people by offering a free shuttle bus to key services and retailers in Mount Gambier.

The agency has started weekly dedicated return trips for residents to access Foodbank Mount Gambier or the Mount Gambier Marketplace.

The initiative was launched last month following feedback from visitors to the Mount Gambier Community Centre, who highlighted their own challenges accessing Foodbank Mount Gambier’s Cave Road site.

“There can be several barriers for people accessing Foodbank or the shopping complex, from gaps in the public transport system to the cost of fares or lack of their own transport,” Homelessness Services senior manager Trish Spark said.

“We hope introducing this free service removes some of those barriers and allows people to access the services or shops they need each week.”

While vulnerable community members have experienced these issues for some time, it was the recent securing of a larger vehicle capable of transporting numerous people that made this initiative possible for the Mount Gambier Community Centre.

“We knew of these barriers and that created the opportunity for to go beyond our core services and provide this free transportation,” Ms Spark said.

“We can help connect people to Foodbank or provide them with other supports, but if transport is then an issue, we have solved one challenge and created another.

“As locals ourselves, we understand some of the challenges within our community and strive to find solutions or work with others to improve outcomes.”

After a soft launch of the service, Ms Spark said more seats were being reserved each week.

“As word has spread, we are seeing more people coming forward to request a seat and we can only imagine this will continue as the colder, wetter weather sets in,” she said.

“We have limited seating so we appreciate if people register in advance to help us with planning.”

Foodbank Mount Gambier regional branch manager Lynne Neshoda said there had already been great feedback from people using the service and she predicted the number of users to grow.

“We know it is difficult for people struggling to put food on the table to have regular access to food relief at our Foodbank Cave Road food hub,” she said, adding cost of living pressures continued to increase the number of people seeking support.

“For people who cannot afford to eat, let alone drive or do not have access to a vehicle, it is extremely difficult to get here.

“This is a fabulous and a much-needed service for the most vulnerable people in our community and we appreciate’s support.”

The free community shuttle to Mount Gambier Marketplace leaves the Mount Gambier Community Centre at 11am on Tuesdays, returning from the shopping complex to the centre at 1pm.

A return trip to Foodbank Mount Gambier leaves the community centre at 11am each Wednesday, returning after all occupants have collected their goods.

To register a spot on the community bus, please call 7725 3000 or visit the Mount Gambier Community Centre at 22 Ferrers Street, Mount Gambier.

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