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Bus travel opens up for people of all abilities

CATCHING a bus was a daunting prospect for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participant Nikki Gourley just a year ago.

But today the Bundaberg resident is confidently travelling around the city on Duffy’s bus routes.

“I know all the bus drivers by name and have even made friends with some other passengers,” said Ms Gourley. “I feel a lot more independent and confident to access any part of the community now.”

The life-changing move came about after she took part in the IWC-initiated “Try Before u Ride” event in December 2019.

IWC is the Bundaberg Region Local Area Coordinator for the NDIS, and partnered with Duffy’s City Buses and community organisation PCYC to hold the event, which drew more than 70 people to find out how easy it could be to access public transport in the region

IWC NDIS Area Manager Ryan Mulvany said: “Participants received a ‘Swipe and Go Card’ which had been pre-loaded thanks to the team at Duffy’s City Busses.

“This initiative has provided many NDIS participants in this region with the choice and control that is at the heart of the scheme, enabling many community members to start accessing the public transport system. For many, this may be the first time they have done so despite living in Bundaberg for many years.”

Chris Duffy, of Duffy’s City Buses, said: “The ‘Swipe and Go’ card allows all of our passengers to use our public transport system with ease. People with disabilities, the elderly – in fact, all community members love the fact of how easy it is to board a bus and get where you want to go.

“All Duffy’s busses are accessible for people of all abilities and there is a strong emphasis on all staff understanding disabilities and inclusivity.

“All drivers understand that our community members may have a range of challenges, and they like to make sure everyone who travels on our busses feels comfortable and safe.”

Ms Gourley is a big fan of the “Swipe and Go” initiative.

“Previously I was very worried about catching a bus and would only go to places in my wheelchair,” she said. That kept her very close to home.

But now the keen traveller takes a bus trip at least three days a week, heading out to places such as Stockland Bundaberg, Burnett Heads and Bargara.

Mr Mulvany said: “Community initiatives such as this are part of the way for the IWC Local Area Coordinators can help people of all abilities gain access to their community, and the opportunities within them.”

· Go to www.duffysbuses.com.au for more information on this initiative, and to www.iwcndis.com.au for details of this and other community supports