New community transport service is changing lives for Cairns locals
- 20 September 2021 11:21AM
People in the Cairns community, who have difficulty getting around, are finding new independence thanks to TransitCare - a new not-for-profit community transport service.
The door-to-door service helps people connect to their community, whether it’s attending medical appointments, shopping, the library, gym or social and recreational outings.
TransitCare Cairns Branch Manager Ms Anna Harrison said she is delighted with the uptake of the service since it started in January 2021.
“This service is essential for a range of people including people without access to public transport, those socially isolated, or dealing with mental health challenges, people with disability and the elderly, so they can stay connected to their communities,” Ms Harrison said.
“In July, we had 1,301 transits alone.”
Ms Harrison believes the key to their early success is having a Reconciliation Action Plan in place.
“Our staff and drivers have been through cultural awareness training to make them conscious of cultural differences and requirements of our First Nations customers,” she said.
“We have seven Indigenous staff working with us, and several of our drivers are Indigenous and that has really helped break down cultural barriers.”
Millie was having difficulty walking to and from the bus stop due to her asthma. Now, she uses the TransitCare service to take her to and from medical appointments and to pick up groceries.
“TransitCare comes right to my door and the drivers always offer to carry my groceries inside and put them on the kitchen bench,” Millie said.
“Everything is so easy now; I can get from A to Z and I don’t have to rely on other people.”
“If I haven’t called for a pick-up for a few days, Anna will call me and check to see if I’m ok or if I need to go anywhere.”
Ms Harrison said the service covers a large area from Palm Cove in the north of Cairns, to Gordonvale in the south and currently operates from 7am to 5pm five days a week.
“The average distance travelled is 4.7 kilometres, so most of our clients use the service for local trips,” Ms Harrison said.
“There is a small payment of $7 to travel up to 10.9 kilometres, door-to-door, but we will never turn people down if they are struggling financially.”
For Cairns local Wayne, who is legally blind and unable to drive, TransitCare’s service has changed his life.
As a single father of two young children, living in an area without public transport, Wayne was spending most of his pension on taxis to take his youngest son to and from school.
“I was forced to get emergency assistance to get by because most of my pension was going on taxi fares,” he said.
“When I first discovered TransitCare, I thought they were angels in disguise.
“They fit me in and make things happen for me no matter what, and it’s also made a difference to my children’s lives, because during school holidays, I can put their bikes in the back of the TransitCare van and go to the local skate park.
“I’m so thankful and the drivers are nice and very friendly.”
Ms Harrison said due to demand, they hope to extend the service from five days a week to six days in the near future.
TransitCare also operates services in Brisbane South, Logan, Redlands, Townsville, Charters Towers and Ingham.