Schools out for operators

School could be out in Victoria for some bus operators after this week’s announced subsidy cut

Schools out for operators
Schools out for operators

By David Goeldner | November 2, 2012

Victoria’s peak bus operators’ association BusVic has labelled this week’s decision by the Baillieu government to cut school bus subsidies for rural and regional students as ‘bad policy’.

BusVic Executive Director Chris Lowe says his association is ‘gravely concerned’ about the impact the announced funding cut will have on students, parents and privately contracted bus and coach operators in regional Victoria.

"The reduction in conveyance allowance to some schools will see the cessation of private contracts that many schools have with bus operators," Lowe says.

"It is unreasonable to think that these displaced students can transfer onto the public route bus network."

Lowe says the span and frequency of these services is inadequate to cope with the ‘last minute’ increase of demand as students shift from privately contracted school bus services over to the public route bus network.

"That’s the Victorian government’s expectation but the network is not there to handle it," Lowe says.

Lowe cites the case of a Mornington Peninsular private school that will lose most of its funding as a result of the change.

"I am informed that the response from government was that as there is a route bus, put the kids on that," he says.

"The bottom line is the route bus only runs on the hour every hour, and it’s got a maximum capacity of 55 people.

"We are talking about a school that needs to get hundreds of kids to and from school, and needs to do that on multiple buses at a high five to ten minute frequency in the peak."

Lowe says that while the state’s education department is pushing students towards using route services, the transport department is at the same time saying the existing route bus network can’t cater for the transition.

"We remain concerned for the viability of bus and coach operators affected by the policy," he says.

"This is bad policy, it has not been thought through adequately and we remain gravely concerned."

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