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Funds to help public transport access

VITAL WORK: Steve Thomson wants to see the bus service improved. THE Hunter has secured more than $478,000 from the state government to improve public transport access in the region.

The money will pay for upgrades to bus and taxi shelters, bus stop signage, interchanges, lighting and security across Maitland, Singleton, Port Stephens and Lake Macquarie.

Thirteen bus stops in the Maitland Local Government Area will receive concrete pads to raise passengers to the same level as the floor of the bus.

Liberal candidate for Maitland Steve Thomson, who made the announcement, said the initiative would allow passengers with a disability and the elderly to ‘‘easily use the bus service’’.

He said people with disabilities struggled to catch the bus at some places in the city, and the improvements were ‘‘vital’’.

Edgeworth, Glendale, Cardiff and Argenton will share in $108,000 and receive a bus shelter, concrete pad and seating.

Port Stephens will receive $122,500 for projects at Tanilba Bay, One Mile and Boat Harbour.

In Singleton, more than $127,000 will be spent to refurbish 11 bus shelters and install three new bus stops.

The projects are funded through the regional country passenger transport infrastructure grants scheme, and the money is available immediately.

It is not dependent upon which party wins the state election.

Mai-Wel Group chief executive Pennie Kearney, who works with people with a disability, said it was a ‘‘fantastic outcome for people with a disability and the ageing population’’.

She said people with a disability found it difficult to use public transport when the bus stop was not at the same level as the bus, and often became stuck in transit to their destination.

She said that barrier often prevented them from keeping a job, and every public transport stop in the region needed to be disabled friendly.

‘‘Transport needs to be free-flowing and sometimes they will get part of the way through a trip and find a real barrier … We’ve got areas in the Hunter where there just aren’t any suitable bus stops,’’ she said.

‘‘That stops the opportunity they have to get out in the community.’’

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