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There is a remote school kept alive by a Toyota Hiace

There is a remote school kept alive by a Toyota Hiace

When Stonehenge Primary School, located on the edge of nowhere in southwest Queensland, Australia, was reduced to three students, the administration and the community immediately set about putting together a rescue plan. On a voluntary basis, they began to transport the little things that lived on the surrounding farms to the city in minibuses. After it became clear that the program was really needed, they turned to the Ministry of Transport for help and, using the support they received there, bought a Toyoga Hiace minibus.

The next big challenge was finding a suitable driver – no easy feat in a settlement of fewer than fifty residents. The solution finally came from more than a thousand kilometers away: from the city of Warwick, located in the most densely populated part of the country. For 66-year-old Deb Porter, the opportunity to work has paid off – on the one hand, because it allowed her to stay active even when she was retired, and on the other hand, she could be close to her grandchildren who live in the countryside, who themselves go to school every day. day thanks to this program.

Deep Porter collects its young passengers early in the morning. The whole trip takes about an hour, and the return trip takes the same amount of time, when he brings the kids home in the evening. The school building, which has been nearly empty for four years, is now filled with a rickshaw of seventeen children—eleven of whom are Toyotas, the rest are locals. This clearly shows that the program has a significance that goes beyond itself: by revitalizing school life, a process has been initiated that can stabilize the functioning of the educational institution in the long term.

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Families in the area are so grateful to Deb Porter for this service that in March this year she was nominated for School Bus Driver of the Year, being a finalist. At the same time, he himself does not expect the slightest recognition for his work: on the contrary, he feels that the task is good for him both mentally and physically.

To date, the Toyota Hiace and its driver have covered more than 100,000 km with their “precious cargo,” as the bus driver used to call the kids. It is not known how long Deep Porter will be behind the wheel, but there is no doubt that the car will withstand extreme conditions for decades to come. The model series sold in Europe until 2012 (type replaced by Toyota ProAce) has earned a reputation as one of the most reliable and durable light commercial vehicles in the markets of Asia and Oceania.

The sixth-generation model introduced in 2019 was originally offered with two engines, but the 3.5 V6 petrol version was removed from the program for 2022, so the model is currently only available with the 2.8-liter inline-four diesel engine. It is available in Europe and we know it from the Toyota Hilux pickup and Toyota Land Cruiser off-road vehicle. In the past, the installation of a plug-in hybrid powertrain has been discussed, but so far this idea has not been realized.

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