Members of South Taranaki Passengers Services Incorporated are urging businesses to get on board and help fund the vans they use to transport disabled, aged and physically challenged people.
STPSI president Susanne Taylor says the bus provides an essential service for the community — providing safe, reliable and affordable transport for people who badly need it. She says it makes sense for businesses to step forward and help fund the vans as they transported customers into town to do their shopping, go to cafes and get to appointments.
"We need the community to buy the vehicles so the community can take ownership of it."
STPSI is based in Hawera and is leasing two secondhand vehicles which costs around $1500 per month. One of the vans has a hoist fitted, meaning it will be accessible to many people who currently cannot use a normal bus or taxi. The affordable service is being modelled on New Plymouth's Ironside Society, which runs seven wheelchair-hoist equipped vans.
The organisation recently signed a Total Mobility Scheme contract with the Taranaki Regional Council.
Suzanne says the feedback from the community on the service has been positive and they had been kept busy — especially on Christmas Day when they made eight trips. Before Christmas, society members parked the vans at the Hawera square during an open air concert to promote the service which Susanne and organisation secretary Dianne Grigg performed at.
"We had both the vehicles parked in the square so people could get a sense of what we do and how it works and what we can do to help them apply for funding for this service.
"It was really good, but we ended up doing more talking to people than actually performing," she says.
Susanne hopes business owners will see the value and importance of the service and get on board financially.
"We believe that the disabled, elderly and the physically challenged citizens of small communities across South Taranaki deserve to have affordable transport available.
"Transport solutions for this group is however not available due to high cost of delivering the service. The very people who need this the most cannot afford it. We hope to change that."
To donate money go to givealittle.co.nz/cause/southtaranakipassengerservices