Bus will pick up school kids, for extra fee

EVAN HARDING
Last updated 05:00 13/06/2012

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Bus company Ritchies has agreed to pick up southern school children whose homes are not on official southern bus routes - at a cost of about $4 per kilometre to the parents.

Wairuna woman Lisa Anderson this week expressed her safety concerns for her children after being told they would have to travel almost 3km along the highway to the nearest Education Ministry-funded bus stop to be picked up.

She asked Ritchies for a private extension to its Wairuna route so her two sons could be picked up outside the mail box.

Ritchies director Andrew Ritchie said last night the company had decided to implement a standard charge for bus route extensions in South Otago and Southland.

Mrs Anderson said the figure quoted by the company to her yesterday equated to $4 a km.

"That's $80 a week, $800 a term, $3200 a year, $17,600 until my two children leave Clinton School," she said. "That's a lot of money. [We] are not going to pay it."

She had asked Ritchies to justify the cost, she said.

But Mr Ritchie said last night if the money wasn't paid the children would not be picked up.

"I could probably justify [charging] twice that amount," he said. "People pay for extensions all over the country. They either choose to pay or they don't."

The bus route extensions were a "huge inconvenience" to the company but it was offering the service if people wanted it, Mr Ritchie said.

The money had to be paid a month in advance, he said.

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- The Southland Times

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