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.

Just three years and eleven months later, having served the community for nine years and three months the shuttle transported its 20,000th passenger.

Many passengers comment that” It is an absolutely fantastic service,”

“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, based at Railside by the Green, there are two shuttles and a seven-seater van that are capable of transporting 25 people a day. Close to 50 volunteers keep the service running and each group 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 organisations.

“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.”

(Matamata Chronicle, August 2013)

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