The trial of an on-demand bus service for the shire has officially launched, with plans to link Candelo and Eden with the region’s main centres.
Perhaps indicating how much the service is needed, there was already a passenger on board when the first bus arrived at Candelo for the ribbon cutting on Tuesday, November 27.
John Oxman grew up in Candelo and said he’d been “looking for a service like this for a while”.
“I’ve used hitchhiking, I’ve had car troubles...this is gold,” Mr Oxman said.
Sapphire Coast Buslines, in partnership with Transport for NSW, is trialing a Flexibus On Demand Public Transport service in Candelo and selected streets in Eden to give passengers more flexible options for getting around.
The new on demand service from Candelo will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays during school terms and will provide connections to Bega, Merimbula and Pambula.
In Eden, the service will operate on weekdays with customers able to request a pickup or drop off in designated spots near the existing bus route.
The trial will run for two years, with Sapphire Coast Buslines’ Jamie Klemm saying “if people don’t use it, we lose it”.
However, early signs are very positive, with phones “ringing hot the last few days” she said.
“For this service to work we need people to get on the website and book, then from next year, in phase two, fingers crossed, we will move into an app, which is another really exciting part of it.
“Bus travel is not sexy, you have to talk people into it.
“We’ve run an on-demand type service in Tura and Merimbula for 10 years quite successfully now.
“But we basically had to re-educate passengers – to say okay so it’s not coming past your door every five minutes, but if you can just amend a few things this could really work for you.
“Like moving away from calling us to using the website and the app. That will be a shift in customer habit, but once they’re into it they’ll be fine.
The “dynamic stop” system is now available from Candelo on Tuesday and Thursday during school terms.
The dynamic stop bus service is also operating throughout Eden with “loop” routes on Lakeside Drive, Banks St, Barclay St and Cocora Beach.
It operates accordingly to requests via the website flexibus.com.au or by calling (02) 6495 6452.