Once again Auckland Transport (AT) is rolling out the new school bus services – but not without a few changes.
Following an outpouring of concern from parents in December, AT announced it would delay the changes to school bus services for up to six months until a proper consultation had taken place.
However, just two months later it’s been announced the changes will take effect from term one.
“At this time, we are confident that we have now engaged effectively with all of the schools. We have listened to them and made changes where required,” a memo from AT states.
“Although it was suggested that all school bus changes should be delayed for six months, our discussions with schools have meant that we have resolved all issues that can be resolved within our financial and contractual constraints.”
AT spokesperson James Ireland says that due to the public nature of the changes, they received more feedback than what they would have gotten during a standard consultation.
“Many parents have engaged with us and we are confident that once they get used to the new services, they will realise these are better than what was in place last year.”
AT says they consulted with all 27 affected schools, and made changes to the seven schools with concerns.
Bus routes have been reinstated for Our Lady Star of the Sea, Howick Intermediate and Botany Downs Primary and new routes have been added for Somerville Intermediate to address capacity concerns raised by the school and parents.
Buses have been added to the Sacred Heart College schedule as well as changing the interchange point to Pakuranga.
AT will operate a service to Baradene from Panmure Station where students can transfer from public buses, as was always proposed, but a private dedicated school bus service will be available through Coachways NZ to Baradene and a number of other central Auckland schools on a trial basis.
Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross says he is “hopeful but far from happy” with the changes being rolled out come the beginning of the school year.
“The whole process has been difficult for parents to follow as the communication has not been clear, and the changes appear to have been very rushed for, what appears to be, budgetary reasons.”
“AT deserves some credit for talking to all affected schools and trying to find an alternative approach after receiving feedback,” he says.
“They have done this much faster than the “up to six months” that we were previously advised. We can only hope now that they have properly identified the issues and put in place fixes.”
Ross – and Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown – were notified of the changes by a memo emailed to them on the same day advertisements for the new school bus service was due to be printed in local newspapers.
“It feels like there was some hope it would fly under the radar,” he says.
Ross says he is glad AT has worked with schools to the point they are confident that necessary changes have been made where required.
“It’s now incumbent on them to tell their customers in an effective manner what is happening, and the reasons why.
“I hope for the sake of local children that they are right and term one starts without a hitch.”
Ross says he encourages to go to the AT website and look carefully at the new set of proposals and says he is available to help parents communicate with AT when needed.
A full list of the changes can be found here.