Auckland Transport (AT) is backing down on school bus cuts after a backlash from parents.
Earlier this month it was announced 16 east Auckland schools would be losing their school bus services, and alternate buses and routes were suggested for students.
AT said on Tuesday that after hearing the concerns of the community, it is going to modify the plans for school bus routes and will re-consult on proposed changes to school bus routes in east Auckland.
“We acknowledge the concerns of the community, and that we could have done a better job in engaging with them earlier,” says AT spokesperson James Ireland.
“After hearing those concerns we are proposing to modify the plans and reinstate buses for two schools – Howick Intermediate and Our Lady Star of the Sea – which previously were having services withdrawn completely. We are also altering a school bus route to better serve Botany Downs Primary.”
“We are currently in contact with these schools and requesting they pass on the information to parents.
“We are also talking to three other schools where parents have raised issues- Sacred Heart College, Baradene College and Somerville Intermediate and, if necessary, we will delay changes while we work through a solution – this may include keeping some existing services,” he says.
Ireland says AT will go back to all other schools in east Auckland to again check that they are comfortable with the proposals.
Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross and Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown support the decision by AT to pull back on their changes to school bus routes.
“The safety of local children must not be compromised in the name of convenience, and parents have a right to be heard on such a significant change,” Brown said in a statement.
“Many children who catch a school bus are familiar with their driver, their route, and their fellow students who travel with them, and this creates a safe environment for them to and from school.”
Late last week Brown, Ross and Howick Local Board chair David Collings met AT and petitioned them to delay the changes.
Ross also spoke during the public forum at the Howick Local Board Meeting on Monday night to urge the board to stand up for the community and demand AT rethink the proposed changes.
“I have a five-year-old son who, thankfully, doesn’t need to catch a school bus, but even so, I can’t see any way in which I would put a five-year-old, and, even when he’s older, on a public bus,” Ross said.
He said while AT has the right to consider how it delivers services, there has been a considerable lack of consultation with parents and schools on the issue.
“I can’t see how it’s feasible for AT to implement these changes in term one next year when they haven’t done enough to consult with parent,” he said.
“AT have put months, if not years of consultation into this new bus network. I think parents deserve this type of consultation as well.
“For AT to say that the [school bus] service is being withdrawn and students will have to take a public bus, and will likely have to walk considerable distances to get to that public bus, I can absolutely see why parents are unhappy.”
- What do you think? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- You can give feedback on the school bus routes directly to AT by emailing: schoolbus@AT.govt.nz
Auckland Transport is now holding a number of information events over the next two weeks for anyone who has concerns or wants further information.
- Wed 22 Nov, 12pm – 6.30pm, Botany Town Centre, 588 Chapel Road, East Tamaki
- Sat 25 Nov, 5.30pm – 12am, Pakuranga Night Market, Reeves Road, Pakuranga (under The Warehouse)
- Tue 28 Nov, 6.30am – 12pm, Botany Town Centre, 588 Chapel Road, East Tamaki
- Sat 2 Dec, 8am – 12pm, Fresh Market (Beachlands & Maraetai), 120 Jack Lachlan Drive, Pine Harbour
- Sat 2 Dec, 2pm – 5pm, Countdown Beachlands, 129 Beachlands Rd, Beachlands,
- Tue 5 Dec, 12pm – 6.30pm, Howick Information Centre, 115 Picton Street, Howick