On-demand minibuses are providing about 600 trips a week in Sutherland Shire, with Westfield Miranda the most popular destination.
Transdev, which was contracted by the state government to operate the service, said the number of bookings had increased by about 18 per cent a week since the service started in November last year.
The Transdev Link service is on trial in four zones in the shire for six months and, depending on the response, for up to two years.
The zones are centred on Gymea, Caringbah, Sylvania and Jannali West.
Fares are a flat fee of $2.60 for adults, and $1.30 for concession card holders (pensioners, seniors, students, and apprentices).
Miranda resident Brenda Di Lisio, 73, books a trip on the blue and white minibuses four to five times a week, mainly to go shopping and meet friends.
”It’s a life saver for me,” she said.
“Previously, I had a long walk to the bus stop and it involved crossing Port Hacking Road at the Five Ways.
“It could take me 10 minutes to get across.
“The bus picks me up at my door and drops me home.”
Driver Leanda Gavin, whose official title is “journey maker”, said the service had “changed a lot of people’s lives”.
“They couldn’t get out before because they were not near a bus stop,” she said.
Ms Gavin said it wasn’t just older people who were taking advantage of the service.
She estimated 40 per cent of users were younger people, including school students.
Transdev general manager, on demand transport, Yvette Mihelic, said, “Overall, we are pleased with our patronage growth, which has seen the number of booked trips increasing at around 18 per cent per week since November”.
“We continue to receive positive feedback from our customers and the community, and our average customer trip rating is 4.87 out of 5.”
Ms Mihelic said the ratings reflected well on the safety, reliability and punctuality of the service.
”What has been particularly touching for the whole team are reports of how this new innovative and incredibly flexible transport offering has really been life changing for some customers,” she said.
“We already have a diverse and loyal customer base, from retirees needing to get to medical appointments, to work commuters, to secondary students heading to and from schools.”
Ms Mihelic said the most popular destination was “Miranda Fair shopping centre, which falls within three of our zones, where we pick up or drop off around 21 customers on an average day”.
Ms Mihelic said the drivers were shire residents, “who know the neighbourhood and the traffic”.
Almost half of the drivers were women, ‘which helps provide a service where everyone feels welcome, respected, comfortable and most importantly safe.”
.A Transport for NSW spokesperson said patronage growth in all the trial areas was “encouraging, and there has been continued positive community and customer feedback”.