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Wheels come off Merimbula, Eden taxi service

Can’t sell the taxi business

Eden and Merimbula residents and visitors to the area will be left without a taxi service when the existing service closes its doors on October 14.

More than a way for people to get home after a night out, the local taxi service had contracts with the Department of Education for five school runs and the Department of Veterans Affairs to transport veterans to medical appointment, and accepts the 50 per cent transport subsidy vouchers allowing discounted service for the disabled, elderly and those with special needs.

The owners of the service, Jennifer and Roger Christie, are both seriously ill and despite efforts to sell the business it has been unsuccessful.

The Eden Magnet understands the business will close on October 14 at 3pm in Eden and 6pm in Merimbula.

“We have built the service up over 16 years and I’m devastated that we can’t keep it going. It is with great regret we have to do this,” Mrs Christie said.

The service takes students with disabilities to school where regular transport is not suitable, but at the end of last week, as the school holidays started, the last runs were made.

Visiting doctors who arrive by air are taken to South East Regional Hospital (SERH) and picked up again at the end of their day to be taken back to the airport. There are veterans and seniors who use the service for both social and medical access and people who use it to get to work early in the morning.

Anyone discharged from SERH after 5pm will no longer be able to get a taxi as the Bega service is understood to be limited in the times it operates.

The impact across a wide range of people in the community is expected to be large as some people have no other way of getting to their appointments.

The Bega Valley Community Transport service requires 48 hours notice and generally only operates between 7am-5pm and there are eligibility requirements for users of the service.

Bimbimbie resident Avril Smith is 95 and decided to stop driving two years ago.

“Anytime I want to come out of my unit, mostly I use a taxi. We pick up my friend and go to the RSL Club for coffee a couple of times a week,” Ms Smith said.

“It’s a means of keeping in touch with the world, my opportunity for social interchange; this is a disaster,” Ms Smith said


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