St John Wakatipu Health Shuttle drivers (from left) Rod
Sullivan, Evan Paterson, Claudia Faichney, John Stephens,
Kussy Gomez and Dave McNay, with area executive officer
Jessica Patch and booking co-ordinator Maxine Murdoch
outside the ambulance station in Frankton on Friday. The
service transports its first passengers from the Wakatipu
to Southland Hospital and back today. Photo by James Beech.
A new lifeline for Wakatipu residents and visitors
needing to keep their medical appointments in Southland
Hospital begins today.
The $80,000 St John Wakatipu Health Shuttle rolls out with
its first passengers - two from Queenstown and one from
Arrowtown - with a pair of first-aid trained and uniformed
drivers rostered on duty from a pool of 26 volunteers.
The 12-seat, 2012 Ford Transit, sponsored by Four Square
Supermarkets, will be the fourth to hit the road in the South
St John Wakatipu area executive officer Jessica Patch said on
Friday there had been many inquiries from residents about the
service since the first call for volunteer drivers and the
shuttle's ceremonial dedication last month.
At least two more people were booked for this week and two
more next week.
The service picks up passengers at the corner of Ramshaw Ln
and Wiltshire St, Arrowtown, then outside the Queenstown Ice
Arena in the Queenstown Gardens, and from the St John
ambulance station, Frankton, before stopping at townships as
requested on the way to Invercargill.
The shuttle was scheduled to arrive in Invercargill every
week day at 11.15am and depart the city at 3pm, depending on
the number of passengers.
The shuttle would also collect people who had been treated in
Invercargill and wanted to return to the Wakatipu.
Miss Patch said St John Wakatipu was "very appreciative" of
Four Square for paying for the vehicle and start-up costs.
The charitable emergency service would look to the community
to help keep the service on the road as operating costs for
the first year were expected to be $35,000.
Passengers were invited to give on average $30 for the
service, or any donation, but those who could not afford to
give would not be turned away.
A single ticket from Queenstown to Invercargill on a
commercial coach can cost up to $50.
For more information about the St John Wakatipu Health
Shuttle and to make a booking, call (03) 441-4555 ext 4.