Ministry sticks with school bus policy

Andrew Howard
Andrew Howard
The Ministry of Education is standing firm on its policy that allows children to stand on school buses on the open road, despite calls for change from the Wanaka Primary School board.

Board chairman Andrew Howard said yesterday despite feeling positive change would come following a meeting with four senior officials late last month, he had been advised by the ministry there would be no change and not even a review.

``They gave the point of view that buses are very safe; there have not been many fatalities on school buses, so they didn't see a need to change.''

``I put it to them that virtually what they're telling me is we need some more children to die before they'll look at doing anything about it.''

``It's mind-boggling to me because everyone I've spoken to other than the ministry sees that it is a danger and a surprise that [children standing on school buses] is even allowed.''

The ministry's head of education infrastructure service Kim Shannon said extra capacity had been added to the Luggate bus service, ensuring all younger passengers would be seated while travelling on the open road.

Mr Howard admitted the extra capacity would mean no children would be standing on school buses travelling on the open road in Wanaka, but believed it was only a short-term solution.

``It hasn't changed the policy, so as soon as the roll starts growing again on that route, we'll end up in the same situation.''

After three bus crashes in less than two weeks, Transport Minister Phil Twyford has launched an investigation into whether the accidents had common factors and causes.

Mr Howard said he had written to Mr Twyford about implementing a ``one seat per child'' policy and hoped the investigation would lead to safety improvements.

He would continue to fight for change.

Ms Shannon said the ministry would look to the Ministry of Transport for guidance relating to all safety transport issues.

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