New Rowville bus big on flexibility

A new bus service in Rowville is winning passengers and receiving rave reviews for its flexibility.

FlexiRide is a demand-responsive weekday service with no fixed route, allowing passengers to book their trip from their nearest virtual stop to or from Stud Park Shopping Centre or Ferntree Gully train station.

Passengers with accessibility requirements like 85-year-old vision-impaired Rowville resident Elaine Wallis can request a more tailored service that collects her from her door or an agreed accessible location.

Elaine, who uses FlexiRide up to four times a week to visit Stud Park Shopping Centre for coffee with her walking group, relies heavily on the service simply to leave home.

“It’s marvellous,” she said. “Without it I’d probably stay home a lot more or I’d have to get a taxi, which is too expensive, and they don’t like doing short trips.”

Ferntree Gully year 12 student Karl Suarez uses FlexiRide every day to and from home to the station and onto school in Boronia.

He said FlexiRide greatly reduced his commute by eliminating a 20-minute walk to a bus stop on a timetabled route.

“It’s accessible, it’s easy and it stops right outside my street,” Karl said. “I see the same drivers all the time, which makes it personal and also gives me a level of comfort.”

Rowville mother Heide Dawber uses FlexiRide once or twice a week, generally to visit the shopping centre and occasionally to catch a train.

“I think it’s an excellent service in non-peak times and I can bring my daughter in the pram easily,” she said. “For me it’s really handy.

“When I push the booking button on my phone, quite often I’ll have a bus at my door within minutes.”

Ventura driver Hubert Lacanau said he liked the fact FlexiRide allowed him to go the extra mile for his passengers. 

“We have customers with challenges like visual and hearing impairment and the elderly who we can drop at their doorstep, which makes them feel safer,” he said.

“In the afternoons, we carry lots of school kids. I’ve spoken to parents and it gives them peace of mind knowing how their child is going to get home and be on time.”

Ventura spokesman Samuel Pierre-Humbert said uptake of the service has increased considerably since its launch in December. 

“The service has been carrying an average of 117 passengers per day since the start of February, with minimal average wait times,” he said.

Rowville FlexiRide operates from 6am to 8pm weekdays. To learn more, visit ptv.vic.gov.au/RowvilleFlexiRide.