It is often the small-town dilemma – how do you get anywhere without a car, no Uber, and limited or no public transport? The launch of the first community e-bus service in Gippsland, Victoria could solve this predicament.

The fully electric buses, named Sandy and Sunny, are fitted with wheelchair lifting and carrying capabilities. The initially free services will be run by the Venus Bay Community Centre and Sandy Point Bus management Committee and staffed entirely by volunteers.

Sandy Point and Venus Bay are the first communities to take on the e-bus trials in the country, and if successful the model could pave the way for other small towns across Australia.

The project, funded and supported by the iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre, the Victorian Government and La Trobe University, aims to address the critical transport gap faced by residents in these small communities who are often reliant on private vehicles or limited existing services.

The initial three-month trial will help the communities refine their services which will run for the remainder of the two-year project. The idea is that both communities are then able to continue providing the services an ongoing basis.

La Trobe University is working closely with the community teams to capture data and lessons for the project with a view to adopting what works to other regional towns in Australia.