Touted schoolbus cuts raise safety fears

Young kids would have to take public transport

PAUL EASTON
HUTT VALLEY REPORTER
Last updated 05:00 18/10/2012
Hutt school bus
KEVIN STENT/Dominion Post

WORRIED: Alayna, 9, Freya, 6, Sacha, 12, and Aurelia Humpreys, 4, will be affected if plans to cut their school bus service go ahead.

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Children as young as 4 would have to use public transport to get to school under plans to slash more than 20 bus routes covering Hutt Valley schools, outraging parents.

Parents were yesterday contemplating changing their children's school amid safety concerns sparked by the proposed changes.

Bus company Runcimans, owned by NZ Bus, has proposed cutting the routes as part of a business review.

The firm operates school and charter buses throughout Upper and Lower Hutt.

Charles Humphreys has four children - the youngest is 4 - taking a Runcimans bus from Wellington to Rudolf Steiner School in Lower Hutt daily, and relied on the bus to get them there safely.

"There are paedophiles out there that do prey on children."

The NZ Bus proposal would see them taking public transport to Waterloo Train Station, then changing to a Runcimans school service.

"We just won't do it."

Sacha Humphreys, 12, said she wanted to stay at Rudolf Steiner, "but if the bus stops we'll have to think about changing".

Affected schools include Rudolf Steiner, Sacred Heart, St Joseph's, Chilton Saint James, St Oran's, and Maidstone Intermediate.

St Oran's College principal Dawn Ackroyd said its main concern was the safety of its pupils.

Runcimans bus drivers went "above and beyond" the call of duty to make sure their pupils were safe, she said.

NZ Bus representatives met schools to discuss the proposal this week, and the company stressed it was not finalised.

In a letter to Rudolf Steiner School, NZ Bus outlined plans to cancel four routes from next year.

A new service would be introduced from Waterloo Station to the school.

"Passengers will be able to use public bus route 110 to Queensgate or train to Waterloo, then transfer to proposed school bus route 956 to Rudolf Steiner."

Principal Karen Brice-Geard said she was very disappointed by the proposed cuts.

Young children on public buses might get off at the wrong stop and get lost and the school could lose pupils if parents were not happy with the system.

She hoped to set up a meeting between parents and NZ Bus. Mangaroa Valley resident Jo Donnelly said she would not put her 7-year-old daughter on a bus if the changes went ahead.

"I just have this vision of her wandering off into Lower Hutt."

Another parent, Debbie Ryan, said it was unreasonable to expect young children to deal with the trials of public transport.

"They're looking at the bottom line, and putting profit over safety."

NUMBERED DAYS?

900: Brown Owl to Maidstone Intermediate

902: St Pat's Silverstream to Te Marua

903: Te Marua to Rudolf Steiner School

907: St Joseph's to Brown Owl

908: Silverstream to Fergusson Intermediate

910: Upper Hutt to Sacred Heart College

912: Upper Hutt to Chilton Saint James

913: Silverstream to St Oran's

918: St Oran's to Pinehaven

925: Totara Park to St Joseph's

928: Te Marua to HIBS

932: Sacred Heart College to Te Marua

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933: Upper Hutt Station to Rudolf Steiner School

950: Alicetown to HIBS

952: Waterloo to St Pat's Silverstream

960: Wainuiomata to St Pat's Silverstream

961: Wainuiomata to HIBS

962: Eastbourne to St Pat's Silverstream

963: Eastbourne to HIBS

972: Papakowhai to St Pat's Silverstream

974: Porirua to Wa Ora Montessori

976: Papakowhai to HIBS

981: Wellington Station to Rudolf Steiner School

Contact Paul Easton
Hutt Valley reporter
Email: paul.easton@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @pwe74

- The Dominion Post

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