Te Awamutu’s Tegan Crotty has been confidently travelling on Waikato’s public buses this year thanks to an event she attended for disabled and older people 12 months ago.
The teenager was among about 40 people in electric and manual wheelchairs, others using walking frames and sticks, and one with a guide dog who turned out to ‘have a go’ on the buses last year.
It was such a success that another event, organised by CCS Disability Action and Waikato Regional Council, is being held on Tuesday 3 December between 10.30am and 12.30pm.
Ms Crotty had just finished her schooling at the time of last year’s event and intended studying in Hamilton this year, but had never travelled on a public bus.
“It was great having the time to figure out how to get on the buses in my wheelchair, because they’re not all the same, and it gave me the confidence I needed to travel on them this year,” said the 19-year-old.
“For the first half of the year I travelled at least four days a week between Te Awamutu and Hamilton by bus to attend my course. Not having to rely on my parents, being independent, has been a real boost to my confidence,” she said.
The regional council’s acting public transport operations manager, Ben Barlow, said: “We had a fantastic response from people last year who had wanted to travel by bus around the city, but had previously been worried about how to get on board.”
For this year’s ‘have a go’ day, an Orbiter and urban green bus, supplied by bus companies Pavlovich and Go Bus, will be parked in Caro Street for people to get on board.
“This day provides a safe, non threatening environment for both existing and potential new passengers to ask questions and to have a go at getting on the bus, buying a ticket and putting on the seatbelt fitted for wheelchair users.
“It is also an opportunity for people to become familiar with our bus timetables and ticketing options, as well as to reassure them that drivers will help passengers if they ask,” Mr Barlow said.
Afterwards, staff will also be on hand at the Transport Centre in Bryce Street where people can familiarise themselves with the platform layout and ticketing systems.
More than 80 per cent of the region’s public buses are accessible, with another 10 new low floor vehicles due to join the Hamilton fleet in the first quarter of 2014.
To find out more about the accessibility day, or to plan your bus trip, visit www.busit.co.nz or contact the helpline on 0800 4 BUSLINE (0800 4 2875463).
Photo: Tegan Crotty on board the bus during last year’s ‘have a go’ day.