The NSW government has announced that a successful outback bus service will continue to run following the extension of the popular public transport trial.
An Empower bus called Wilba has been running in Bourke for the past year, carrying out more than 2000 trips and allowing hundreds of local residents to access safe and reliable transport at an affordable price in a town that has no other public transport options.
Now, the community bus will remain on Bourke’s streets after the NSW government confirmed it’ll provide funding to extend the trial.
The pre-booked 12-seat bus service gives residents the chance to get around Bourke, with Wilva also providing a vital link to other major regional and metropolitan service centres, such as Bourke Airport and NSW TrainLink coaches.
“Bourke residents love the Wilba service; it’s been a real success,” NSW regional transport and roads minister Jenny Aitchison says.
“Wilba has had a huge impact on this town and the stories I’ve heard about the significant difference the service has made demonstrate exactly what public transport should be all about.
“Services like Wilba are critical in isolated communities challenged by a lack of transport options and I am so glad that despite the budget challenges this government inherited, we have been able to keep this service going for residents in the far west.”
Aitchison says demand for Wilba has exceeded expectations since the trial service began in February last year, with residents from all age groups using the service.
The positive community remand has led the government to expand the trial for another two years, with funding secured until February 2026.
“I use it every day to go to do shopping, sometimes go to the doctor, sometimes the hospital and even to go and see family,” Bourke resident and Wilba user Carissa Edwards says.
“We have no taxis in Bourke and it can be very hard because my family doesn’t have a car, so Wilba gets us from A to B.
“Before Wilba started, we had to ring people or ask people to take us to do shopping or give us a lift somewhere, so Wilba has made the biggest difference to my life and my family’s lives.
“I’ve heard elderly people on the bus say they used to get people come and do their shopping so they hadn’t left their homes for years before Wilba began.
“One thing I would like to see, though, is some shading at the bus stop where they pick us up. It can be very hot waiting there with all our groceries, especially in 40-degree heat.”