Overloaded schoolbus brings ticket

A larger bus has been assigned to a Queenstown school route after the bus operator got a ticket yesterday for breaching its maximum load.

Constable Brian Fitzgerald, of Queenstown, said a motorist contacted police about 8.30am yesterday, concerned at the number of pupils on the bus, believed to have been travelling from Frankton to Queenstown.

Const Fitzgerald said the bus was transporting primary school children to St Joseph's and Queenstown Primary schools.

Inquiries indicated the bus had

62 pupils on board at most. The bus had a loading certificate for 57 people, Const Fitzgerald said.

''An infringement notice was issued in relation to that offence. However, the [operator], having been spoken to in person ... has given an assurance this is the last time it will happen.''

Given the number of children on the bus, it was likely some would have been standing in the aisle, Const Fitzgerald said. However, that was not illegal.

The company got an infringement notice, carrying with it a $200 fine.

Ministry of Education service delivery group manager Jerome Sheppard said the bus service was a ministry-contracted one. The ministry was notified of the incident yesterday morning.

''We believe there is enough space on contracted buses and public transport for all eligible students in the area to get to and from school,'' Mr Sheppard said.

''The bus company involved in this incident has advised that all loads have been reviewed and a larger bus has been assigned to the route in question.

''We will monitor the situation to ensure student safety is maintained.''

Companies operating ministry-contracted buses were not allowed to exceed loading limits and it would address the incident directly with the bus company, Mr Sheppard said.

- tracey.roxburgh@odt.co.nz


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