Co-ordinator says school buses full up

The issue of school buses in Wanaka being over-capacity is getting worse, Mount Aspiring College school bus co-ordinator Simon Nyhof believes.

Last year, the Ministry of Education added a new bus to the Luggate route after concerns were raised by Wanaka Primary School about the bus being over-capacity and pupils standing in the aisles while the bus travelled at up to 80kmh.

Now three other routes were starting to face similar issues.

"The Tarras bus, the Hawea bus and the Cardrona bus are all at capacity or above," Mr Nyhof said.

"We're having situations now where the buses are driving past kids because they're full and, therefore, either parents have to bring them to school or they wait until the bus drops everybody off and comes back to pick them up.

"It's only going to get worse once we start getting the bad weather."

But the ministry denies those claims.

Mr Nyhof said the college last year gave the ministry an audit of the number of pupils eligible to take the school bus, and told the ministry issues were likely to arise sooner, rather than later.

Last month, 10 pupils were left behind at a Hawea Flat bus stop as the bus was at capacity, and on Monday a year 7 pupil watched the bus drive right past him as there was no room, Mr Nyhof said.

"We knew this was going to happen because we were right at the threshold the last couple of years.

"We don't want to moan and not give them a solution. If we had one more bus coming in from the Hawea area, we could pick up all the kids and it wouldn't be an issue.

"The ministry did a really good job on the Luggate run, where all the primary school kids could go on one bus and our pupils would fill our own bus up. Now there's plenty of room there."

Mr Nyhof said he would love to see the issue resolved before the start of term two at the end of April.

But that seems unlikely, as the ministry's acting head of education infrastructure service Rob Giller this week denied claims there were any issues regarding school buses at capacity in Wanaka.

"We have been in touch with some of the schools in the area where students use the buses through to Wanaka.

"We have enough seating capacity on the buses servicing the Wanaka schools for all eligible students.

"We work closely with the bus provider and schools to make sure the best service possible is provided to users in the area," he said.

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