With heavy backpacks in tow and their first lesson to get to, seven Somerville Intermediate students were stranded at the bus stop on Tuesday morning thanks to an overcrowded bus.
This isn’t the first time it’s happened and parents suspect it won’t be the last.
Jatinder Sidhu says she waits with her daughter Samar at the bus stop every morning to make sure there’s enough room for her on the bus.
Samar, who is in her first year at Somerville Intermediate, catches the 434 bus from 470 Chapel Road which also services Botany Downs Secondary College, Howick Intermediate and Howick College during the school term.
“The buses that come through Chapel Road and Kilkenny Drive are always full,” Jatinder says.
“When the bus arrives children are either seated on the floor or standing all the way from the back of the bus to right next to the bus driver.”
On several occasions the bus has been so full that her daughter and several others from Somerville Intermediate have been left behind at the bus stop.
“The bus drivers sometimes have to stop more children from getting on and, rightly so, because children are so squished together they can hardly move,” she says.
“Somerville school has come to help many times by sending their school van to pick up the stranded students.”
The problem with this, she says, is that often by the time the Somerville van arrives, the kids are already late to school and miss part of their first class.
“It is a very sad state to see children in such a situation in the morning. They are about to begin the school day, and they should be focused but instead they are exhausted by the time they reach the school gates.”
Jatinder says she and the other parents are starting their work days late because they can’t just leave their kids at the bus stop, in case the bus doesn’t take them.
There must be “little hope” for the children waiting at the five stops after her daughters, she says.
“We have tried to reach the school and (Auckland Transport) AT for help but we get told somebody will look into it and then nothing happens.”
Auckland Transport spokesperson Mark Hannan says AT monitors this service daily.
“We have the largest size bus available running these trips. Our data shows these trips are very close to full capacity but not overloaded, apart from one instance when the original bus broke down and a smaller one replaced it,” he says.
Hannan says the Certificate of Loading allows up to 101 students in total, and AT data shows the highest count at 86 students.
He says there are clear markings on the bus to show passengers where they should and shouldn’t be standing.
“There are three other school buses that serve Somerville Intermediate that duplicate the 434 route to some extent – 433, 436 & 435,” He says.
“The 433 has quite a lot of capacity and covers the segment of Chapel Rd north of Kilkenny Dr. The other two services are also almost at capacity.”