Brisbane hospital bus service starts

A NEW bus service to take Northern Rivers people to medical appointments at hospitals in Brisbane will start on April 2.

The North Coast Shuttle service is a 17 seater wheelchair accessible bus that departs from Ballina (with one stop in Byron shire and one stop in Tweed shire) travelling to Brisbane three times a week for medical appointments at PA, Mater and Royal Brisbane hospitals.

Patients will also be able to use the bus to get to specialist appointments near one of the hospitals.

Bookings and assessments for the shuttle will be taken at Northern Rivers Community Transport, Tweed, Byron, Ballina Community Transport and Clarence Valley Community Transport. 

The service will give first priority to passengers who criteria according to Health and Community Care guidelines, being frail aged or someone with a permanent disability. However, other people can use this service if seats are available.

The nominal cost for this service is only $50.  Accompanying carers can travel free of charge and there will be an on-board assistant to support passengers with basic needs.

Transport to and from the client's home to the nearest shuttle stop will be provided with no additional charge.  This includes anyone from Lismore, Casino, Maclean and other outlying areas.

The new service is a pilot project funded by Transport NSW. Until fully supported will be limited to appointments on Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 10am and 1pm. 

Shuttle organisers are encouraging support from both medical practices and individuals to make appointments within this timeframe.

Project coordinator Amanda Lucantonio said the project had "been in the making for many years".

"We are keen to gather support to sustain this service beyond the initial 12 months," she said.

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