Parents worried by switch to buses

ALEX FENSOME
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2012

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Special needs children could face changes to their daily routines after the new contract to transport them to and from school in Invercargill and Bluff was awarded to Go Bus Transport.

School Support Ltd, which runs South Island school transport for the Ministry of Education, sent parents and caregivers a letter last month announcing the change.

Previously, Blue Star Taxis ran the service in Invercargill.

Leah-Ann McKinlay-King, whose stepdaughter Sarah, 18, has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, said the move was a worry for parents.

"The taxi drivers we've got at the moment have got to know the kids," she said. "They need to have a lot of empathy."

The children did not like changing to someone else, she said.

Go Bus Transport was an unknown quantity and she had yet to speak to them. "We need to know for next year what time [Sarah will be picked up]".

The ministry opened a nationwide tender for the special-needs transport contracts in February, with the current contracts expiring this month and the new ones beginning on January 1.

The letter was sent to caregivers and parents on November 21, stating Go Bus Transport had been awarded the new contract and would be running services from the start of term 1 next year.

Go Bus Transport commercial director Craig Worth said the company would talk to parents before the start of the term to sort out pick-up times and other details.

Some pick-up and drop-off times could change, he said. The company was investing about $830,000 to set up the new service, with 16 jobs and other part-time positions possible.

Blue Star Taxis general manager Keith Henderson said he could not comment on the contract changes.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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