Woopi Connect’s On Demand pilot service was made permanent on 1 July 2022, providing local communities with more transport options.
The Forest Coach Lines service has been allowing many people from communities like Woolgoolga, Safety Beach, Mullaway, Arrawarra, Arrawarra Headland and Corindi Beach, to live more independent and fulfilling lives by allowing them access to personalised and cost-effective public transport, since it was trialled in 2019.
It was one of seven government services in rural and regional NSW that was made permanent.
ComfortDelGro Australia Corporation (CDC) Regional Australia Division, GM NSW Operations Andrew Fogg said the expansion of Woopi Connect was a great outcome for the community.
“The people of Woolgoolga have gained many opportunities that simply weren’t available to them before with the introduction of Woopi Connect,” Mr Fogg said.
“It opened the Coffs Harbour CBD to many residents, enhancing our economy, boosting people’s employment prospects, and helping the elderly get to essential services including medical and dental appointments.
“Making this service permanent will allow more people to take advantage of this flexible, convenient service and get more enjoyment from their lives.
“It’s easy to see why the service has been growing in popularity and now made permanent.”
Visually impaired Mullaway resident Adam Morris has been able to rely on the service instead of his family and friends.
He catches the bus to and from his job at a pizzeria twice a week, as well as his judo lessons in Woolgoolga.
“I love catching the bus, it’s definitely made me more independent and has meant my wife doesn’t have to take time out of her day to take me to work,” the 54-year-old, who has been blind his whole life, said.
“Without it, I’d have to take a taxi and even when you consider the disability vouchers, we get it’s still about $10 each way. It’s not worth that when it’s about an hours’ worth of pay.”
Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh welcomed the news the Woopi Connect On Demand service was here to stay.
“The pilot has been immensely popular. Since the trial began in 2019, 46,600 trips have been taken by customers,” Mr Singh said.
“Forest Coach Lines does a wonderful job in running the service, connecting Woolgoolga, Safety Beach, Mullaway, Arrawarra Headland, Arrawarra, Corindi Beach and Red Rock.
“It’s great the NSW Government is continually exploring new and innovative ways to provide public transport options that meet the community’s needs in our region.”
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said the announcement of the new permanent services was a major win for commuters who would have improved connections to transport hubs, shopping centres and other townships.
“We have been trialling the On Demand pilots over the past three years with more than 1.1 million trips taken by customers to date,” Mr Farraway said.
Being an On Demand service, customers can book using the Woopi Connect app or via the telephone hotline to travel anywhere in the service area, any time between 7am and 7pm on weekdays and Saturday 7am to 5pm.
The service does not operate to fixed routes or a timetable; instead, it takes people within the service area where they need to go, when they need to.