The Optimus-bodied bus will be used for school runs and operate throughout the day as part of Cowra’s hail and ride service.
For the Saxby family – in particular for siblings Justin and Sophie, who both have a rare form of spinal muscular dystrophy and require power chairs for mobility – the bus is a godsend.
Justin and Sophie’s mum Cindy Saxby said the kids are “incredibly excited” about the prospect of getting themselves on and off the bus with their own chairs and catching the bus with friends.
“Although we only live four kilometres from the school, it takes about 30 minutes each way to load in their manual chairs and take them to school.
“Not having to rely on me to take them to school and back every day is a huge boost to their own independence and social development.”
Cindy said the idea of a wheelchair accessible bus was raised a couple of years back and, to their credit, Cowra Bus Service never gave up.
“When we found out a low-floor bus with a wheelchair bay was allocated to the town we were thrilled. We can’t thank Cowra Bus Service enough – it’s going to make a huge difference to my kids and the whole town, especially older people with walkers and carts.”
The Disability Discrimination Act-compliant Volgren low-floor bus replaces a Mitsubishi Rosa. It’s a move which Jeff Brown, Assistant Manager of Cowra Bus Service, says will lead to better overall patronage.
“With the new low-floor we can now promote the town’s hail and ride service to people who weren’t previously able to access the bus because of the entry stairs.
Older people and those with mobility challenges – people with walking frames, for example – can easily get on and off the new bus, and there’s plenty of room for wheelchairs or mobility carts.”
Brown added that local Council had been supportive by improving the footpath structure outside the Saxby family’s house to help Justin and Sophie get on and off the bus smoothly.
“To see the smile on the kids’ faces when they got on the bus for the first time was just incredible. This bus is going to make life so much easier for the Saxby family and so many people in the town,” Brown said.
The new low-floor Optimus is Cowra Bus Service’s fourth Volgren/Marcopolo bus. The company also operates a Marcopolo Audace and two Volgren School Charter Buses.
Left to right:
John Allen – Volgren Major Account Manager & Jeff Brown – Cowra Bus Service Assistant Manager