A bus taking disabled students from Corryong to Wodonga has been reinstated.
Belvoir Special School students who were getting into town on a Catholic College Wodonga bus had to find an alternative after the school discontinued the service.
Michael Leonhard, a co-ordinator at the town’s neighbourhood centre, went hunting for funding options and found success with a charity that wishes to stay anonymous.
“They normally provide for specific needs such as mobility aids – up to $30,000 for an individual,” he said.
“I asked if they could marry that up with a group need, and one of the people who sits on the board is from Corryong and well aware of the travel issues.
“They went into bat for us and had a discussion with the rest of the board.”
The charity provided $60,000 and Jacob Toyota Wodonga chipped in the remaining $3500, setting up a new 12-seater Hiace.
Mr Leonhard said volunteers would be trained to drive the bus, and said residents in need were welcome on board if they assisted
“We would be open to someone travelling to university, as long as they’re happy to be part of the process and help with students,” he said.
“It opens up many more opportunities, not just for Belvoir – it may be that some people might come down for specialist services in Wodonga.
“The vans are easy to upgrade to give wheelchair access; at this point in time it’s not necessary.”
Corryong local Louise Middleton launched a petition last year calling on the state government to fund a more dedicated public bus link than the current one, which also acts as a mail run.
Ms Middleton will keep pursuing the government to improve the service provided.
“The donated bus is not going to solve the community’s issues; I committed to a whole-community bus, so I’ll keep going on that,” she said.
“The petition with 300 signatures was tabled in parliament on February 22nd, then I believe it’s gone to the Public Transport Minister (Jacinta Allan) and we’re waiting on her response.”
A government spokeswoman said the government would “continue to monitor demand for bus services in the Corryong area”.