Touted schoolbus cuts raise safety fears
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."
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
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
The Dominion Post