St Bede's rector backs bus driver

CAROLINE KING
Last updated 18:07 07/02/2013
Alex Kuiper
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ

FURIOUS: Alex Kuiper, 13, and his mother, Linda Kuiper. Alex was kicked off his bus when the driver ejected passengers at random in anger at misuse of the stop button.

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A Christchurch high school rector says he sympathises with a driver who kicked pupils off a bus after the stop button was continually pushed.

The driver kicked a group of 10 St Bede's College pupils off the Blue Line bus to Rangiora on the northern side of the bridge in Old Main North Rd on Tuesday afternoon.

The first was Alex Kuiper, 13, who was left with a long walk to his Charters St home in Kaiapoi.

Alex said he was annoyed at being punished for something he did not do.

St Bede's College rector Justin Boyle said today he felt "sympathetic" towards the bus driver.

"I think there was a situation that was unfortunate for the bus driver where he had to in some way make a point. Unfortunately, completely innocent kids had to walk some kilometres home."

He said the 60 to 70 pupils who use the bus to Kaiapoi and Rangiora had been pulled aside after assembly and reminded how they should behave.

He asked them to put themselves in the driver's position, "then you might reconsider any silly behaviour".

Senior pupils were implored to show leadership should they witness a fellow pupil exhibiting poor behaviour, he said.

He said only a "very small number of kids" would have been involved in the incident.

The school would not be going on a "witchhunt" to find the individual or culprits, Boyle said.

"It may not have been a Bedian; there were other boys on that bus."

Boyle, who has been rector since 2002, said "periodically this has happened".

Alex said he did not know who was behind the ''joke''.

His mother, Linda Kuiper, complained to Go Bus and received an apology.

She understood other parents had complained.

A bus driver of more than a decade, who did not want to be named, said he had thrown pupils off for ignoring warnings to stop continuously ringing the bell.

In his case, several years ago, he told about 25 out of 50 pupils to get off the bus.

Later that day he told his employer what he had done and was given a "smack on the wrist".

He said his employer approached the schools and told them of the pupils' inappropriate behaviour.

"The next day I turned up; I had no more problems," he said.

However, he now dealt with the situation differently. 

If the bell kept ringing he announced that if anyone who wanted to get off they had to approach him, otherwise he would not stop.

He believed this was the approach the driver should have taken.

Amalgamated Workers' Union South Island assistant secretary Lindsay Chappell said it would be ''unusual'' if the driver's employer did not support his actions.

''We would certainly back the driver. These drivers have the right to ensure health and safety. If that means stopping and putting these people off, that's what it means. It's a distraction,'' he said.

Go Bus failed to return calls by The Press today.

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