Free bus helps youth to head on home

A BUS service to ferry Tamworth’s youth home during the country music festival is back for 2013.

The Free Youth Bus Service, nicknamed “head n’ home” begins tonight and will run for the five busiest nights over the festival period, with two buses driving home up to 200 young people a night.

The initial idea for the service began after Tamworth police reported transporting a large number of young people out of the CBD during past festivals, placing pressure on police resources.

Harry Cutmore, Aboriginal Community Liason Officer for Oxley Local Area Command, joined forces with Oxley LAC Inspector Jeff Budd and the Free Youth Bus Service was born.

A collaborative partnership was formed between the NSW Police Service, PCYC, Transport for NSW, The Aboriginal Medical Service, The Yaamanhaa Men’s Group, Aboriginal Community members and JoblinkPlus to get the service funded and running.

Mr Cutmore said the service was about getting people home safely, and freeing up valuable police resources.

“It’s designed for all of Tamworth’s youth. We don’t want anyone getting into strife or becoming victims of crime,” Mr Cutmore said.

The two buses are also equipped with a mobile phone to ensure effective communication between police and bus drivers including scheduling pick-ups from certain spots.

Had a few too many and can’t get a taxi? You won’t be allowed on the bus. 

“It’s only there for youth and not intoxicated people,” Mr Cutmore said.

Mr Cutmore said the success of last year’s service, including favourable comments from parents and grandparents meant it had to return for 2013.

Oxley LAC Inspector Jeff Budd said the service involved a great group of volunteers whose first priority was community safety.

“It involves some significant people in the community who really care about getting our kids home safely,” Inspector Budd said.

“The last thing we want is anyone becoming isolated in town and falling victim to crime.”

Last year, the buses travelled approximately 1400km during the five nights, with an average of 8 return trips per night with no violence or antisocial behaviour reported.

The buses will run tonight, Saturday 19th, Thursday 24th, Friday 25th and Saturday the 25th from 8pm to 2am.

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