The report revealed that the council’s Trafalgar community bus was only being used twice per week while the Warragul bus was being used little more than seven days every fortnight.
Warragul ward councillor Gerard Murphy said at the last council meeting the low usage of the general use buses “shocked” him.
“The report shocked me that the Trafalgar bus was only used twice per week,” Cr Murphy said.
Councillors voted unanimously to extend the usage area of the Trafalgar bus to include the Rawson and Erica area, but Cr Murphy later told The Warragul Citizen the service also needs to be advertised more.
“We need to use more of this resource, so we have to be more proactive telling the community, who can use the buses for say a disability group or an old adults group or going to somewhere or doing something,” Cr Murphy said.
LISTEN: Cr Murphy interviewed by The Warragul Citizen about community buses:
“The one in Trafalgar is good for the [surrounding area] to use it, and what can we do with these buses?
“They’re no good just sitting in a carport or in a garage for four days a week, so it’s important that they actually do get used and we have to find out more ways of using them and I’ll be talking to the community services and see how we can do that.”
The council has four buses – two designated for specific program usage and two for broader community use.
The report returned the following points:
The Trafalgar bus “is used on Tuesdays and Thursdays by the Trafalgar Senior Citizens Group. Otherwise it has only been utilised twice in 2012.”
The Warragul bus “is used extensively by the Social Support volunteer programs seven days per fortnight for six community shopping trips and one library trip; it is also utilised bi-monthly for the meals on wheels café and Club Wild a social inclusion program. Various community groups also access the bus on an ad hoc basis and a fee system is in place.”
“The other two program-specific… buses are fully utilised by the Adult Day Activity Support Services (ADASS) program often up to 7 days per week including evening when they have weekend activities scheduled.”
Department of Health funding means “community groups that fit the target group, i.e. Frail aged or people with a disability, will attract a reduced rate for the hire of these buses. Target group… pay 80 cents per kilometre travelled plus GST; cost of re-fuelling the bus at conclusion of trip; and a $50.00 deposit which is returned providing the bus is returned in satisfactory condition.”
“Users falling outside criteria are charged $130.00 plus GST; cost of re-fuelling the bus at conclusion of trip; and a $50.00 deposit which is returned providing the bus is returned in satisfactory condition.”
Cr Murphy said any increase in servicing costs due to increased bus usage would be minimal.
“I’d expect that if we’re going to be able to get more of our disability groups and groups in needs using these facilities that we would find the only minimal amount for this cost,” Cr Murphy said.
“Again, we have to get… volunteer drivers and so on and so on so it may take three to six months for us to work though this, but they are a resource and we need to use them more.”
The report said ongoing fleet costs associated with the four community buses cost approximately $66,380 per year.