A proposed bus service from Hawera to New Plymouth will allow people going to Taranaki Base Hospital or other Taranaki District Health Board services to travel for free.
Taranaki DHB staff can also access the free service, but hospital visitors will need to pay their own way.
The Taranaki DHB has agreed to put $75,000 towards a two-year trial of the bus service, which will also be subsidised by the Taranaki Regional Council and the region's three district councils, with a total contribution of $61,000, and Witt $20,000.
It is expected that passenger fares would come to $104,000.
At the board's ordinary meeting on Thursday, chairwoman Mary Bourke said the service had been a long time coming.
"It is one of the first and most obvious areas the whole community can, as Taranaki Inc, work together to do something helpful for everybody."
It is proposed that the new service will start in February, when the current health shuttle will stop.
The health shuttle carried 3009 people in 2011 and 4122 passengers in 2012.
In a report to the meeting, business manager of hospital and specialist services Steve Chapman said the proposed service would have a better bus for passengers with disabilities but might not have wheelchair access.
"This is an improvement on the current service, however there remains a gap."
The present health shuttle sometimes goes to Patea, but the new bus service won't.
However, preliminary talks have been held with people from St John who want to offer a health shuttle service to complement the proposed bus service, Mr Chapman said.
They have a vehicle available, which could be used for patients where it is deemed travel on a public bus is not appropriate and would provide stretcher and wheelchair access without using an ambulance.
And that service could extend to Patea, Manaia and Waitara.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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