How does Area Connect operate, and where?

Area Connect vehicles carry people who don’t have access to public transport near their home, or at the time they need to travel.  They also either don’t have their own transport, or they prefer to use group transport for environmental and economic reasons (ie, cheaper; less polluting; less traffic congestion).  In some cases it takes them to connect with a mainstream public transport service where that is suitable.  In other cases it takes them directly to their place of work or study, where there is no public transport that could get them there.

During the pilot phase of the program, there are no fees payable by users.  However, as Area Connect grows to its full potential it will be a fee/fare-paying service.

The service runs on a demand basis, rather than a rigidly-defined route and schedule.  A car, van or mini-bus is allocated depending on numbers who need to travel, and is scheduled to run only if there are forward bookings to justify it.  Departure and arrival points and times are regularised in order to provide consistency for users, however some deviation in routes is possible depending on where majority of users are located.

The service is co-ordinated through a central booking and scheduling office, which also handles bookings and scheduling for CTST’s community transport service.  Area Connect carries general passengers from the wider community, but can also link up with community transport to provide part of a trip for eligible community transport clients.

At present the service operates in two areas, as a pilot through which the concept will be further developed and refined.  These areas are:           

Derwent Valley “jobs bus”.

This service has received funding from the Tasmanian Department of State Growth to establish as a “Regional Employment Transport Trial”.  In the first instance it provides for jobseekers in the Derwent Valley to gain improved access to training and employment opportunities, by carrying those who do not have their own private transport, and/or live a significant distance from a public transport route, and/or need to travel at times when public transport isn’t operating.

A car, van, minibus or bus (depending on passenger numbers) will travel a designated route, collecting passengers from home or identified pick-up points, and carry them to a suitable contact point with public transport that will get them to work, or alternatively take them to their workplace if suitable public transport doesn’t exist.  Others use the service to attend appointments with employment service providers, or to attend training that is directed towards improving their employment opportunities. Trips are scheduled as needed, in response to forward bookings.

In most instances, the service is booked by either an employment services provider or an employer on behalf of those people who need it, and in many cases, the employment services provider will subsidise the cost of the journey for each of its clients.

Our purpose with this pilot is two-fold.  First and foremost, it is to ensure that people in the Derwent Valley are connected to employment and related training opportunities.  Second, we are using the experience to inform longer-term solutions to transport disadvantage, both here in the Derwent Valley and elsewhere in Tasmania.

Sorell outlying areas connector. 

For some time, the Sorell Council has owned and operated a mini-bus service carrying people between its outlying residential areas (Dodges Ferry, Lewisham, Primrose Sands, Carlton Park Beach, etc) and into Sorell for shopping and business, or to catch mainstream public transport from Sorell to Hobart and back.

Early in 2018 the Council decided this was not core Council business, and let out a tender for an operator to continue the service.  CTST won that tender, and is now operating the service, continuing the two-days-a-week provision that Council had established.  This service is contracted to operate for two years.

Initially this is a fixed-timetable, fixed-route service.  However, as we develop and refine it in response to customer feedback, we hope to be able to make it more flexible and responsive to people’s varying needs and circumstances.