Coffs trial gets travel card off the ground
Labelled an election bribe by critics at the time; now more than 300,000 seniors have signed up for the Regional Seniors Travel Card.
It provides $250 to spend on fuel, taxis and pre-booked NSW TrainLink trains and coaches.
The card was trialled in Coffs Harbour in January with just 80 people and after five months that number has skyrocketed to more than 300,000.
Coffs Harbour local Peter Bennetts said the card has taken out the worry about the costs of travelling.
"Some of my family live two hours away so I've been spending it on fuel to see them. It really takes the stress away when I don't have to think about the hit to the weekly budget," Mr Bennetts said.
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole says the take-up shows the difference it's making to so many lives, and delivers on The Nationals' election promise to lower the cost of travel for seniors living in the regions.
"The card had eased the burden of travel costs for eligible seniors and injected more than $75 million into regional economies," Mr Toole said.
"This card puts $250 in the pocket of regional seniors, which can mean an extra few trips to visit grandkids living in other parts of the state, the ease of staying connected locally or the ability to volunteer in a local community group."
Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh said it was great to see such strong demand for the card after a handful of locals helped pilot the new scheme to ensure a seamless experience for others.
"This card hasn't just helped local seniors - more than 12,000 of the successful applications are from Coffs Harbour - but it's also helping local businesses like fuel station owners and taxi drivers," Mr Singh said.
"With travel restrictions easing, there's never been a more important time to reap the benefits of eased travel across the regions."
Eligible seniors have until November 30 to apply for a regional seniors travel card, and must activate it within 45 days of receiving it.
They have 12 months to use the card from the date of activation.
Customers are encouraged to apply in a COVID-safe way, either online at service.nsw.gov.au, or call 13 77 88. Vulnerable members of the community should listen to NSW Health advice and avoid leaving home unless necessary.