Reprieve for school buses
THE Otago Regional Council and affected schools have joined forces to keep withdrawn Dunedin commercial school bus services running for term four.
‘‘We were right on the edge of the precipice’’ Tahuna Intermediate School principal Tony Hunter said yesterday.
‘‘We had to get something sorted out before the holidays,’’
The school holidays start on Monday and term four begins in two weeks, on October 16.
‘‘It’s great for term four,’’ Dunedin North Intermediate School principal Heidi Hayward said about the solution.
Ms Hayward was pleased affected parties worked together on the shortterm problem, and was ‘‘reasonably confident’’ longterm arrangements could also be made.
The five commercial school bus services recently withdrawn by Go Bus from the end of term three, will now continue as usual for term four.
For term four only, Dunedin North Intermediate and Tahuna Intermediate will contract the service, which will be underwritten by the council with support from the NZ Transport Agency.
Council chief executive Peter Bodeker said the council had negotiated a ‘‘positive outcome that provides breathing space for schools to arrange longterm safe public transport options’’ to and from school.
This move would give schools the time they needed to find a longerterm solution.
Dunedin South MP Clare Curran was yesterday pleased the affected services would continue this year.
But it was still ‘‘very uncertain’’ what the regional council and the Ministry of Education would do in ‘‘ensuring these services continue’’ long term, and she was concerned the issue could be ‘‘swept under the carpet’’.
The ministry had a statutory responsibility to provide for ‘‘school transport assistance’’.
Council staff said throughout term four, the services concerned would follow the same routes as before.
Fares would rise about 10%, as part of efforts to make the school bus system viable.
The company that would operate the services was yet to be confirmed.