Strap in for NSW seatbelt bonanza

All regional school buses will have seatbelts four years ahead of schedule, thanks to a $29 million school bus seatbelt blitz in the NSW budget.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance says installation of seatbelts on the rural and regional bus fleet will be fast-tracked to ensure the safety of regional public transport.

Funding in the 2017-18 NSW budget means all buses travelling on dedicated regional school routes will have seatbelts by December 2019, ahead of the current schedule of 2023.

All 2,800 rural and regional buses will have seatbelts by December 2021 with the replacement of 415 buses and retrofitting 1,937 existing buses, on top of the 515 buses that have already been replaced.

"We are fast tracking seatbelts on regional school buses, making sure students on all dedicated regional school routes can travel on buses with seatbelts by December 2019 – four years ahead of schedule," he says.

"This is something our communities have been crying out for and I’m committed to making sure kids across the state can travel to school safely."

BusNSW acting executive director Matt Threlkeld says the announcement is an important safety initiative for students travelling to and from school by bus in regional areas of NSW.

BusNSW was part of the School Bus Safety Community Advisory Committee that made recommendations to the NSW Government in 2012, and supported the move for all dedicated regional school routes to have buses with seatbelts.

The NSW Government had originally supported seatbelts to be progressively installed on almost 1,700 dedicated school services over 10 years, commencing in the 2013-14 financial year, at a cost of around $208 million.

"Whilst there has been a shift from procuring new buses with seat belts to retrofitting some existing buses with seat belted seats, the industry supports the Minister’s plan to expand and expedite the program," he says.

"The NSW Government’s proposed retrofitting of 1,937 existing buses will mean more than a 1,000 additional buses will have seat belts, which is good news for regional communities." 

Approximately 415 buses, which are coming to the end of their life, will be replaced with new buses that have seat belts, in addition to the 515 buses that have already been replaced.

"Any project of this scale will have operational challenges and the successful delivery will require a strong partnership between industry and government," Threlkeld adds.

"We look forward to seeing the detail of the retrofit program and how it integrates with bus contracts and the delivery of services."

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