Bus bungle leaves students stranded

Bus bungle leaves students stranded

Byford Secondary College students Lachlan and Georgia Bruce have to walk 2.4 kilometres to get to this Transperth bus stop. Photograph – Aaron Van Rongen.

A Cardup family are hoping common sense will prevail in the hope of getting their two teenagers onto seats with the School Bus Service.

With the 2019 school year starting next week, Byford Secondary College students Georgia and Lachlan Bruce have the choice of either walking a total of 2.4 kilometres along an unsealed road to get onto a Transperth bus or force their mother Julia to work part time hours so she can drive them to and from the school gates.

The irony however is that just a few hundred metres down the road from the family’s home is a School Bus Service bus stop, but they don’t meet the criteria to qualify for the service.

Mrs Bruce said she had applied to the Public Transport Authority School Bus Service twice, once in November 2015 and again in June 2018, but was declined on each occasion.

“There are five criteria which a student must satisfy in order to qualify for the orange school bus service and our children meet four of them, with the exception being that they don’t reside outside of a designated public transport area,” she said.

“This is meant to suggest that our children have access to regular Transperth bus services, therefore there are ineligible.

“We understand that policy and guidelines are put in place to cater for those students who need help the most, however we would like to highlight that asking a student to walk 2.4 kilometres twice a day on a busy rural road, without a footpath in all sorts of weather conditions, does not constitute under normal conditions.”

As a consequence of the decision, Mrs Bruce said she was forced to work part time hours so that her children could travel safely to and from school.

“I have the opportunity in my current role to increase to full time hours however am unable to do so,” she said.

“It is frustrating that we are unable to access an existing School Bus Service route which is 500m from home due to outdated criteria or capacity restrictions.

“All we seek is that the Department of Transport consider these increased demands in existing school intake areas and respond by creating adequate and reasonable accessibility to transport options to safely connect students to their nearest public school.”

Member for Darling Range Alyssa Hayden told The Examiner she had contacted the Minister for Transport on a number of occasions about the issue but as yet nothing had been done to fix the issues.

“A number of local parents have told me that after enrolling their child in a school within their local intake area, as guided by the Department of Education, they have found out later that the bus service zone does not service the local school that their child is enrolled in,” she said.

“Together with the minister’s assistance, I wish to seek clarification the Public Transport Authority on how the school bus services are calculated, to establish if the Public Transport Authority’s school bus service zones reflect the local school intake areas determined by the Department of Education that provides for where parents can send their children, and if they do not, rectify this oversight and have the bus service zones reflect those of the school intake zones.”