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Waikato: Free buses for people with disabilities

Applications open this week for free buses for people with disabilities

Do you have a disability that means you are unable to drive? Would free bus travel help you become more independent and enable easier access to employment, study, healthcare and social opportunities?
From this Thursday (1 August), applications for Waikato Regional Council’s public transport accessibility concession will open.

The concession will mean free bus travel on all Hamilton buses, as well as on the 20 Cambridge, 21 Northern Connector, 22 Morrinsville Paeroa, 23 Raglan and 24 Te Awamutu services. It does not currently include other public transport services within the Waikato region.

The free travel will be available to people who have an impairment that prevents them from being able to drive. This could be a physical, intellectual, psychological, sensory or neurological impairment.

People with a permanent disability are eligible, as are people with a temporary disability that is likely to last for six months or more. People with a short term disability (less than 6 months) will not be eligible for this concession.

There is an application process, which includes an eligibility assessment carried out by either a disability agency or a GP. The council will then issue an accessibility concession photo ID card, which must be shown to the bus driver to receive the free travel.

There are three ways to apply:
1. Check with your doctor to see if they will complete your assessment. Print the application form at busit.co.nz or pick one up from the Transport Centre and take it to your doctor’s appointment.
2. Contact a participating disability agency who will set up an appointment with you to fill out the application form and undertake an eligibility assessment. There may be a charge for this assessment. A list of participating agencies is available online at busit.co.nz.
3. If you are already a Total Mobility user, simply call 0800 205 305 and the BUSIT team will organise an ID card to be mailed to you.

Waikato will be the first region in New Zealand to provide free travel for people with a transport disability, which the regional council voted in favour of last December.

The concession is also supported by Hamilton City Council and builds on its infrastructure improvement programme, which includes a significant increase in the number of accessible bus stops and shelters being built each year within Hamilton.

The concession was initiated following a presentation from young Hamilton woman, Joy Ho, a regular bus user who had asked the council to consider a disability concession in a submission to the Regional Public Transport Plan earlier last year. As part of her submission, Joy put forward a petition with more than 1100 signatures calling for the concession.

For more information about the concession, visit www.busit.co.nz, call 0800 205 305, or visit the team at the BUSIT counter inside the Hamilton Transport Centre in Bryce Street.

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