Have you ever contemplated the long drive home after a social event and decided it wasn’t worth heading out?
Two new, local driving services are helping to fill a need for flexible private transport in our region, Sober Bob’s in Batemans Bay and Bega Taxi and Booking Service in the Bega Valley are here to get you to those parties and get-togethers – and so much more.
Both have been able to take advantage of the growing Uber culture as well as a relaxation in taxi regulations designed to increase transport options in country areas.
According to feedback both new businesses’ have received in person and on social media, Sober Bob’s and Bega Taxi and Booking Service are much needed in the communities they serve.
“People were crying out for better transport options in the Eurobodalla,” says Jennifer Hawke, who runs Sober Bob’s with her husband Tiger.
The hassle and sometimes miserableness of either abstaining from drinking or carefully monitoring alcohol consumption, especially after recent changes to drink-driving laws, is part of the rural transport story.
But it’s not just social alcohol consumption that leaves some drivers unfit and needing transport options – as Jennifer explains, there are many reasons people may need a personal transport service.
“We have a lot of people call us who have been to the dentist or doctor and had anesthesia, or who may have been admitted to hospital in Bateman’s Bay and then transferred to Moruya and need a way to get home after they are dicharged,” she explains.
The service that Jennifer and Tiger provide is especially handy because they drive you and your car to your home, putting an end to morning car collection forever.
Tiger, Jennifer and the drivers they employ are all fully insured and work in teams for extra safety and security – one person drives you and your car while the other follows to give the driver a ride after dropping you off.
Sober Bob’s also has an errand running and food delivery service in the Bateman’s Bay, Long Beach and Batehaven area, called ‘Bob Gets’.
“We will pick up or deliver anything in that area, as long as it can fit in a standard vehicle,” Jennifer says.
Down south, Bega Taxi and Booking Service Proprietor Bruce Taprell has a fleet of vehicles to suit every need, including an eight-seater van and several NDIS certified, wheelchair accessible vehicles.
The services are available from 6 am till at least 11 pm seven days a week across the Bega Valley.
With his roots in farming, proprietor Bruce moved to the Bega Valley from Cootamundra where he still owns the local taxi service, a smash repair business and a window fabrication business.
He purchased the Merimbula- Eden Taxi Service in October last year just days before it was due to stop trading.
As well as personal transport around town, the business is a link to Merimbula Airport, with transport to and from surrounding towns and villages and a courier service for urgent parcel deliveries. There are no distance limits with standard taxi meter rates charged.
Spokesperson Grant Webster says there are far-reaching positive impacts already starting to be felt.
“There are really positive implications for the Bega Vallet economy associated with having a reliable taxi service, we already have one pub considering staying open longer now people know they can get home safely and other businesses open at night in town, such as restaurants, will likely benefit as well,” he says.
Following the public response to Paul’s story, Bega Taxi and Booking Service have also introduced a special 24/7 service for patients discharged from South East Regional Hospital.
Both new businesses appreciate that being on call and having slow times are part and parcel of running a personal transport business in a rural area. They are hoping that dialling a driver becomes part of the cost of a night out and seen as worth it in terms of keeping ourselves and others safe on the roads.
For Jennifer and Tiger, making the roads safer is part of their inspiration for opening Sober Bob’s.
“We have 15-year-old twins, who are autistic and who will be driving soon,” Jennifer says “so anything we can do to keep drunk drivers off the roads sounds good to us!”
Jennifer and Tiger are also dancing with ‘Stars of Eurobodalla Dance For Cancer’. To support them, visit their donation page.