The prototype bus for a pilot program aimed at getting homeless people off the streets visited Bendigo on Thursday.
Simon Rowe founded SleepBus earlier in the year after crowdfunding $85,000 to renovate a bus and fill it with 22 sleep pods and two toilets.
Each pod is fitted out with a bed, USB charger, air conditioning and heating, a lockable door and a free-to-air TV.
Mr Rowe developed the SleepBus idea after speaking with a homeless man in Melbourne.
“I saw homeless bloke and he was just really tired,” Mr Rowe said. “When I did some research, I found there just wasn't enough beds.”
“We are up to $115,000 in ongoing funding and have our own website to take donations. It has been crowdfunding that got this going but the future is about corporate sponsorship.”
Mr Rowe said the bus was more marketing strategy as well as a solution.
“People can point it out and see where their money went. It is also a mobile solution that can go where it's needed,” he said.
The prototype bus will be located in Fitzroy Street in St Kilda to start with but Mr Rowe is planning on expanding his fleet quickly.
“For the pilot program, it is more about operational things like how do we board people and show that it is safe because it is a new and different thing,” Mr Rowe said.
“We have two orders for Byron Bay, two buses will trial in Sydney, one in Adelaide and one in Perth.
“The second phase of the pilot program is getting two more buses into Melbourne CBD and then launching nationally.”
Mr Rowe said regional areas could benefit form a SleepBus.
“Regional areas are a big one but that's where the community comes in. If they tells us they need it and raise the funds, we will build it and operate it,” he said.
Once the program is launched nationally, Mr Rowe plans to set up a factory to create the buses.
“We have a model where we can put out four buses every five weeks or so. Once we are set up in a factory, we can churn them out,” he said.
Log on to www.sleepbus.org for more details.