School buses same for now

The Ministry of Education has put the brakes on its proposed changes to Wakatipu school bus routes and services will be unchanged at the start of the next school year.

Early last month the ministry announced services would be cut from the start of 2015, leaving children to rely on public transport to get to and from school.

Following a public outcry a fortnight later, ministry education infrastructure service group manager Jerome Sheppard said the routes would remain ''fundamentally unchanged''.

However, in a letter to St Joseph's School on September 1, education infrastructure service school transport director Keith Bolton said the ministry had ''slowed down our proposals for change, as we want to get this right''.

''There will be no changes to services at the start of the 2015 school year as had been originally proposed.

''Instead, more time will be taken to get further input on the proposals from parents, yourselves [the school] and local government.

''Any changes will ultimately come with at least a term's notice to parents,'' the letter said.

In an opinion piece in this week's Mountain Scene head of education infrastructure service Kim Shannon said about 750 pupils a day were carried on 16 routes in Wakatipu. Ten of those routes, carrying 490 pupils a day, were also serviced by public buses.

''These 10 school bus routes ... are the ones we want to discuss with the community.

''We have listened to the feedback so far and, as a result, have slowed down the process.''

The ministry expected to come up with a range of options early next year for ''further discussion''.

''We absolutely understand that ending school buses on these routes would mean a significant new cost for those families switching to public transport.

''Any changes we do make will take into account the impact on parents. However, we also want to be fair to all other families around New Zealand and apply our rules equally.

''No matter how school transport is provided in the future, it will be safe and reliable for your kids,'' Ms Shannon said.

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