Hospital takes over community bus

Mitchell Shire’s community bus will now be administered by The Kilmore and District Hospital with the aim to be used on a more regualr basis.

The Kilmore and Wallan branches of Bendigo Bank donated the bus to the Mitchell Shire Council three years ago, to allow community groups to use the service.

The Kilmore and District Hospital plans to use the bus on a regular basis to transport residents of its Dianella Hostel.

A council spokesperson said insurance and administration requirements had seen a relatively low use of the bus by community groups.

“Council has been in regular discussions with community bus owners NorCen Financial Services Limited – who represent the Kilmore and District Community Bank and Wallan and District Community Bank branches – to discuss ways to make the best use of the bus for the community,” the spokesperson said.

“This is a good outcome which will fill a much-needed gap in our community.”

NorCen Financial Services director David Wheeler said the bus had travelled a total of 30,000km in three years.

“[The bus] had only been out 50 days of well over 1000 so we thought the bus was being underutilised while being managed by council so we looked for an alternative use that could keep the bus in the shire but get it out and about more,” he said.

“The hospital often has to hire a bus to transport residents from Dianella so we thought we’d kill two birds with one stone and take the bus from council and give it to the hospital.

“It should be able to save the hospital money without inconveniencing the few community groups who used it.”

The Kilmore and District Hospital chief executive Sue Race said the hospital intended to open up the bus’ availability to the rest of the community.

“We’re very appreciative of Bendigo Bank giving us the bus but we’re exploring how we can make the bus available to the wider community and we hope to have a plan in place by the end of the year,” she said.

Wallan Panthers president Gary O’Brien said the club had only learnt of the community bus in the past 12 months and used it to transport players from its senior teams to their games across the state.

“With the older age groups, we make it a road trip because it’s hard for people to drive long distances and take the court ready to play,” he said.

“We were shocked when we weren’t able to use it anymore. Our under 18s are playing Western Port in Tyabb and we had plans to use to bus but now everyone will have to drive themselves.

“The shock of it was there was no consultation, we thought we would be a frequent user because we just cottoned on to it but all of a sudden we couldn’t use it.”