By Casey Neill
Greater Dandenong’s elderly are missing out on shopping trips because council buses are at capacity, councillor Maria Sampey fears.
She raised the Community Transport Program issue at the Monday 28 November council meeting.
“I’m being told the buses are full,” she said.
“Have people been turned away from this service because of the bus being full?
“With Dandenong being an ageing city, more and more people will require this service through death of a partner or not being able to drive anymore.”
Cr Sampey asked whether there was a waiting list for the service and what plans the council had for its future.
“The fact that the bus is full should not disadvantage elderly passengers,” she said.
Greater Dandenong Council’s community services director, Mark Doubleday, took Cr Sampey’s questions on notice.
He told the Journal that the council had a number of buses that ran to different locations across the municipality.
“This includes the Noble Park Aquatic Centre, Dandenong and Springvale libraries and a number of shopping centres and community groups,” he said.
“The number of passengers varies, with some trips fully booked out and others with vacancies.”
Mr Doubleday said that additional services would run during the Christmas/New Year period.
He said a review of the service was underway and a report was due to go to council in March next year.
In November 2012, Cr Sampey asked for a review of the Community Transport Program.
It resulted in a report to council in June 2013. Councillors resolved to add a shopping trip with an assistance officer or ‘jockey’ to the program for those who needed help getting on and off the bus.
They also agreed to buy an additional 11-seater bus with a lift and cage to provide an extra shopping service at least once a week than could include shopping jeeps.
Councillor Maria Sampey in November 2012 asked for a review of the system, which has resulted in the changes approved this week.
“This will improve the lives of the elderly,” she said.
“They will have a choice with regard to being able to take a jeep on the bus.
“They won’t be straining themselves with their load of shopping.
“It will stop the elderly being isolated and staying at home alone.”