Dunedin North MP David Clark says cuts to a bus service
for school pupils living north of Dunedin are ''tragic'' and
Passenger Transport Citibus operations manager Colin Abbis
said the company had been trialling a commercial service from
Waikouaiti to the Dunedin city area since the start of this
But in a letter to schools and parents last month, he said
the service had to be stopped on August 30 because it was no
longer financially viable.
''Unfortunately, the numbers of students using this service
has reduced to the point that returns from fares no longer
cover the substantial cost of providing this service,'' he
Mr Abbis thanked those who had supported the service and
apologised for the inconvenience the withdrawal had caused.
He said alternative options were for pupils to use the Go Bus
Palmerston to Dunedin service or the Ministry of
Education-funded bus from Seacliff to Dunedin.
Only pupils who attend Logan Park High School - the closest
to the northern services - and integrated schools are
eligible for subsidised transport.
Dr Clark said the cuts were ''a tragic but inevitable outcome
of poor decisions driven by a minister who either doesn't
know or care about students living north of Dunedin''.
''The cost-cutting directive of the Ministry of Education is
killing this service, not the students,'' he said.
The letter to parents offered one public transport option for
pupils attending ineligible schools, which is to use the Go
Bus service, he said.
''There is one service leaving Palmerston at 7am ... and
arriving in Dunedin at 8.10am, which has most children
arriving too early for the school day that typically starts
''It is not good enough. There needs to be subsidised school
buses to one terminus for all school pupils, regardless of
which school they attend.''
Otago Boys' High School rector Clive Rennie and Otago Girls'
High School principal Linda Miller have been vocal about the
bus routes during the past year.
Both believed the ministry's criteria discriminated against
Mr Rennie said it disenfranchised parents and pupils from
being able to choose which secondary school was right for
''This is all about saving money. It's very unfair for our
Mr Rennie said both schools were investigating possible
alternatives. Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye said
the bus service referred to by Dr Clark was not a
''The Ministry of Education is absolutely committed to
supporting every eligible student to get to their nearest
school wherever they are in New Zealand.
''The ministry currently spends approximately $175 million
per annum on school transport assistance - this is to
transport around 105,000 eligible students to and from school
every school day.
''The Citibus service referred to by Dr Clark began operating
earlier this year to transport ineligible students.
''It was a commercial service not funded by the ministry. The
ministry played no role in a decision to no longer continue
Ms Kaye said any pupil who attended their nearest school and
met eligibility guidelines should contact their local School
Support Service manager to see what options were available.