Brighton pupils face 90-minute trip after closure of bus service

Pupils in Brighton could face bus trips of up to 90 minutes each way in the new school year when the closure of Otago Road Services bites.

Saddle Hill Community Board member Leanne Stenhouse said news of the end of the commercial school bus operation was only now filtering through the community.

Its ramifications had created "a bit of an uproar".

"My concern is that now the kids are being left reliant on the public bus service and I don’t know that the public bus service is up to catering for their needs at the moment," Ms Stenhouse said.

She said she understood each school was left to communicate the change to parents.

But one member of the community had a daughter in Brighton who went to Columba College; her trip home would take an hour and a-half and three bus changes.

Pupils from Brighton who attended Kings’ and Queens’ High Schools, in Bay View Rd, St Clair, might have to travel past their school into the central city bus hub and then back towards home to get to school, Ms Stenhouse said.

"It’s just insane.

"To ask those kids to add basically another hour and a-half of travel time to their day, every day, is not on.

"It’s just not acceptable.

"There’s got to be a better a solution."

She said she knew Brighton was not the only community in Dunedin dealing with the issue and told the Otago Daily Times later yesterday she had a good discussion with Otago Regional Council transport implementation lead Julian Phillips, and would meet him in the new year in the hope of resolving some of the Brighton community’s concerns.

Mr Phillips said yesterday the ORC and its bus operators, Go Bus and Ritchies, were working with Kaikorai Valley College to ensure students could continue catching the bus to the school next year.

He said a route extension would allow the public transport network to provide for students travelling to and from the school.

The ORC early this month reported that of the schools affected by the closure of Otago Road Services, only Kaikorai Valley College had engaged with ORC staff to seek a solution.

An ORC spokesman said yesterday there were nine schools that had been serviced by the commercial buses which would be affected by the closure, including Kaikorai Valley College.

The Otago Road Service had catered for between 170 and 225 students in total, he said.

At the start of this month, Otago Road Services cited the conclusion of its Ministry of Education school bus contracts at the end of the year, along with the commercial unsustainability of its commercial school bus services in Dunedin, as the reasons for its decision to close.

 - hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

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