Panic is mounting among the parents of east Auckland school children as 16 schools will be losing some of their school buses next year.
As part of Auckland Transport’s new bus network, selected schools will have their regular school bus services withdrawn, and alternate public transport routes have been suggested.
Botany mum, Angelika Sansom says she is horrified that her 9 year old children will now have to cross a secluded reserve and busy roads to get to and from Botany Downs Primary.
“I don’t feel comfortable with my kids catching public transport alone where nobody is looking out for them and they don’t know anyone.”
“On top of that the bus doesn’t go anywhere remotely close to the school.”
The bus route suggested for her children by Auckland Transport will drop her kids outside Millhouse Reserve which leaves Sansom with concerns for their safety crossing the reserve, which is out of sight of the road.
She says even if she dropped her children at the school gates in the morning, they would still need to catch the bus home.
The alternate bus stop recommended for their drive home Sansom says would drop the kids outside the Accident and Emergency Clinic on Botany Road, forcing her kids to cross busy Botany Road, alone.
“They have told me by themselves that they don’t feel comfortable crossing Botany Road. Even I feel nervous crossing that road, and I do it at the traffic lights. I just won’t allow them to do that.”
Sansom says despite statistics AT is using to justify withdrawing school bus services, there are bus loads of student who will be affected by these changes.
“The bus my children catch services about six schools in the area. They are giving me statistics, which I know are incorrect, on their being too few Botany Downs Primary students using the bus,” she says.
“But whoever put this bus service together in the first place had the foresight to see that if each school has a few students that need to catch it, add them together and you have a full bus.”
AT Spokesperson, James Ireland says all bus services will be safe for children to take and are all required to have CCTV cameras.
“We also provide a Travelwise programme to every school that wants to take part. We can organise walking school buses and provide the schools with the information and support they need to ensure their students get to school safely.”
He says all 16 schools in east Auckland that will have changes will have an alternative route that is suitable for children.
“We have to provide an overall connected network that serves the area as best as possible, and this means we cannot design each route to fit every individual’s journey, but what we are doing is providing a far better service across the city,” he says.
He says the rumour that all school bus service for east Auckland are being removed is completely untrue.
“The main reason for the changes is to ensure that school buses compliment the public bus network rather than duplicate it, as currently happens too often.
“Right now our bus routes look like spaghetti thrown against a map. Once the New Network rolls out it will be simpler, easier to understand and much more frequent.”
Botany Downs Primary
Botany Downs Secondary College
Bucklands Beach Intermediate
Bucklands Beach Primary
Cockle Bay School
Elm Park School
Farm Cove Intermediate
Our Lady Star of the Sea School
Sancta Maria schools (Primary and College)
St Mark’s Catholic School
For more information on the new school routes click here.