From the Bay Post Newspaper

The only bus company taking passengers between Canberra and the South Coast during the bushfire crisis has been robbed.

Rixon’s Bus owner, Malcolm Rixon, said one of their drivers was loading bags on to a bus at the Jolimont Centre coach station, Canberra, when a man grabbed $1200 out of the money bag.

Mr Rixon said the bus driver was trying to get people home in time for Christmas, and had just taken the five-hour new route through Bega and Cooma.

All roads between Batemans Bay and Canberra are closed due to the South Coast bush fires.

The driver was about to embark on the journey back to Narooma, Batemans Bay, Milton and Ulladulla when the robbery happened.

While other bus companies had closed the South Coast-Canberra service due to the bushfire threat and closure of Kings Highway, Rixon’s Bus service continues to stay open.

“(Otherwise) they’ve no way to get to the coast from Canberra,” Mr Rixon said.

National bus service, Murrays, closed their Canberra-Narooma/Batemans Bay service on December 13, and a spokesperson said it was not expected to reopen until December 28.

Mr Rixon said the incident was a blow.

“That’s really knocked us,” he said.

“We’re struggling as it is with extra wages, fuel, distances trying to get people to the coast.

“We think we’re trying to help people, and there are horrible people out there who want to take advantage of a quick dollar.”

After the Kings Highway closed, his buses were taking South Coast commuters to the capital via Nerriga, Tomarong and Tarago.

“We’ve been turned around at Nerriga by fires, and turned around when the Kings Highway closed the second time,” he said.

“Now we’re running the service down to Bega, Bemboka, Nimmitable, Cooma, Canberra.

“It’s a ten-hour return journey.”

When one of their buses was turned away at Turpentine Road, near Tomerong, the driver took passengers to wherever would help them get to their final destination.

That included the Nowra bus exchange, Bomaderry train station and back to their homes “so they had the opportunity to travel with us on the next day – we still honoured their fares”.

He said passengers were grateful: “We’ve had 100 per cent accolades from passengers”.

He said the service would deliver residents to hospital appointments, to the airport and private accommodation.

“We cater for everybody,” he said.

Based at Mogo for about 13 years, Mr Rixon said the company offered a door-to-door service to help an aging population.

He said taxis were expensive in regional areas; even just to take a passenger to the bus stop.

“We pick them up from their door with their suitcase,” he said.

“We take away the stress of seniors travelling, who don’t have anyone else to pick them up.”