Shut­tle shifted 10,000

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page -

It was al­ways go­ing to be a pop­u­lar ser­vice but no-one an­tic­i­pated just how fast the Mata­mata Com­mu­nity Health Shut­tle would take off.

In just five years and four months, the shut­tle has trans­ported a stag­ger­ing 10,000 pas­sen­gers to med­i­cal ap­point­ments in Hamil­ton and fur­ther afield.

Leone D’Ott was the of­fi­cial 10,000th pas­sen­ger and a huge bunch of flow­ers was await­ing her ar­rival back in Mata­mata last Tues­day.

‘‘It is an absolutely ser­vice,’’ she said.

‘‘They are al­ways so help­ful and try to make it as stress-free as pos­si­ble.’’

The idea was thought up about seven years ago, af­ter groups such as the RSA were run­ning low on re­sources to trans­port their own mem­bers.

Mata­mata Com­mu­nity Health Shut­tle Trust chair­man Garry Stan­ley said it made sense to run one ser­vice for all Mata­mata res­i­dents.

‘‘We were orig­i­nally told that 7000 peo­ple a year go to Waikato Hos­pi­tal from the whole Mata­mata area,’’ he said.

‘‘We thought if we got 10 per cent then that’s 700 a year, but we have at least three times that now.’’

The ser­vice started out with a sin­gle 12- seater shut­tle and a com­mit­ted team of driv­ers and sup­port vol­un­teers.

To­day, there are two


shut­tles and a seven-seater van based at Rail­side by the Green, that are ca­pa­ble of trans­port­ing 25 peo­ple a day.

Close to 50 vol­un­teers keep the ser­vice run­ning and each load of pas­sen­gers has a sup­port per­son avail­able to help them find ap­point­ments.

‘‘ We have got a tremen­dous bunch of vol­un­teers,’’ Mr Stan­ley said. ‘‘It’s absolutely fan­tas­tic. ‘‘When we have our monthly meet­ings, they are all queu­ing up to go on the ros­ter.’’

It is a door-to-door ser­vice, with pas­sen­gers picked up from their homes and taken right to the ward or clinic they are vis­it­ing.

As well as Waikato Hos­pi­tal, the shut­tle also makes trips to Thames, Tau­ranga and Ro­torua when needed.

The ser­vice is funded by pas­sen­ger do­na­tions – op­tional – and the sup­port of other lo­cal or­ga­nis- ations.

‘‘It has been a huge suc­cess,’’ Mr Stan­ley said.

‘‘It’s been a real plea­sure to be in­volved with some­thing that’s gone so well.’’

Ma­jor mile­stone: Mata­mata Com­mu­nity Health Shut­tle’s 10,000th pas­sen­ger, Leone D’Ott, with chair­man Garry Stan­ley, op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer Wally Hen­der­son and sup­port vol­un­teer Jan Coun­sell.

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