Principal concerned about proposed changes to school buses

A school bus battle is brewing in the Wakatipu Basin.

The Ministry of Education dropped a bombshell last week when it announced it was reviewing the provision of government-funded school buses in the Wakatipu area.

School representatives were told on Tuesday and attended a meeting on Thursday night called by the ministry.

Wakatipu High School principal Steve Hall said it appeared an unspecified number of bus Wakatipu routes were likely to be cut because user-pays public transport was available.

Details about which routes are under threat are expected to be released in the coming weeks, as the ministry works through its criteria for providing bus services to schools around the Wakatipu.

''We are concerned by this,'' Mr Hall said.

''There might be serious implications from this for our students, families, Wakatipu High School and the community.

''We are really keen to get the final details and see what it all means.''

In a statement released to the Otago Daily Times before Thursday's meeting, the ministry's head of education infrastructure services, Kim Shannon, said: ''The population in the Wakatipu area has grown in recent years and public transport services have also grown to meet local demand''.

''We have already been working closely with local schools and this meeting is an opportunity to discuss with them what opportunities exist for the ministry and public transport providers to work together more collaboratively.''

''Like all other areas in New Zealand, no change will take place until we have sought the schools' perspective and ensured that there is minimal disruption to the school communities.''

-david.williams@odt.co.nz

Buses

For the Lake Hayes area, yes there is a public transport route, it services Lake Hayes and Quail Rise. There are 3 runs of the public buses half an hour apart prior to 9am, I dont know the capacity of these public buses, it doesnt really matter. There are 4 school buses, full of primary and secondary children leaving this area, just one of these buses often has 60 children on it.

On the public bus route there is a need to swap services at Frankton. The afternoon service from Frankton to Lake Hayes runs at 4.05, 4.20, 5.05 & 6.05pm. The way I read this would be that if all the kids currently on the bus had to take public transport, some may have to leave at 7.20am and not be able to return until around 6.20pm.

Sure when the new primary school opens fully in 2016 many primary children will go there, but why change the current system until it actually is open.

There is not a suitable public transport system here, I imagine the operator would need to amend the current schedule to work so this is an obscene suggestion by the MOE. 

We are not talking about one or two familes on the outskirts of the school zone, we are talking about entire suburbs full mainly of familes that live 13km, or a 40 minute return trip from the schools they are zoned for. 

If the MOE can call this 'suitable' then I would suggest that all school buses could be cancelled as then the private sector could offer a 'public transport' alternative and have the parents pay for another part of the free schooling I thought we are all meant to have available to us.