Catholic and independent schools in Canberra have raised concerns that the loss of some dedicated school buses will endanger young students. Source: ABC News.
St Mary MacKillop College principal Michael Lee said schools had been urging parents to express their concerns before consultation closes on Sunday.
“My community is really concerned and has heightened anxiety about the safety of kids under the new bus route,” he said.
“We have 14 dedicated bus routes to this school every morning and afternoon — under the proposed changes we will have five.”
But Transport Canberra has defended the move, saying that more than half of primary school students who travel by bus already safely ride on the regular network.
Figures compiled by Transport Canberra, and seen by the ABC, showed, on average, there were just eight students catching each of the 49 dedicated primary school buses slated to be scrapped.
Estimates from MyWay ticketing data indicated about 1,160 primary school students used regular network buses and 840 used dedicated school buses.
About half of those on dedicated buses would be forced onto the regular network under the proposed redesign.
Transport Canberra boss Duncan Edghill said many of the existing dedicated school buses were part of legacy decisions that no longer made sense.
“We’ve seen our dedicated school bus network evolve over many years now, and where we’ve ended up is something that we think is sub-optimal, both for school students but also for the broader travelling public,” he said.
But some school principals said their concerns lay with the safety of students who would be moved onto the regular bus network.
Mr Lee said a meeting on Tuesday between principals and Transport Canberra left him with more questions than answers.
“Under the proposed changes [students will] have to find their way to a bus stop, which is not necessarily in a school zone, which will not be supervised by a teacher and in fact could be on a major road like Ashley Drive that is 80 kilometres an hour,” Mr Lee said.
“Tell me that’s safe and I’ll stop supervising the kids now.”
More private school principals join calls against school bus cuts (Canberra Times)