The Canberra Liberals have promised to reinstate dedicated school buses if they are elected to government in the 2020 ACT Election, saying that dedicated services for school students are a basic service that the ACT Government should provide.
Canberra Liberals transport spokesperson Candice Burch said a Liberal Government will prioritise dedicated school bus services, and reinstate lost routes where school communities want them back.
As part of the new bus network which came into effect in April, 51 schools were left without a dedicated school bus service. At the time, the ACT Government said the schools which no longer had a dedicated bus service were primary, early childhood or infant schools with very low bus patronage or high schools or colleges that would be served by regular bus routes.
But Ms Burch said that she has heard about widespread dissatisfaction with the new service from both public and private school communities, including principals, teachers, parents and some students.
“It has now been two school terms and we have heard from dozens of schools and from hundreds of Canberra families who have been negatively impacted by these changes,” Ms Burch said.
“We have heard from countless families who have now returned to driving their kids to and from school and many parents have told us they have had to change their work hours so they can drive their kids to and from school.
“There are far too many families who do not feel comfortable putting their kids on the public [transport] network.”
Ms Burch said the Liberals will not completely overhaul the network but will only be “adding back in services where there is a demand for them”. Ms Burch was adamant that any schools which are better off under the new network will not be affected.
She said the Canberra Liberals will consult with school communities to see how they can make the service better for them.
“What we’re hearing from Canberrans – from the people actually using these services – is vastly different from the narrative that both Minister Steel and his predecessor, Meegan Fitzharris, have tried to sell,” Ms Burch said.
“The Barr Government has ignored the outcry from parents to bring back dedicated school services. They have put dedicated school buses as the last priority in their service hierarchy – for the many families who rely on these services, that is simply not good enough.
“Parents deserve peace of mind when it comes to getting their kids to school. That’s why we’re making a commitment to prioritise dedicated school services.”