Residents ask for safer school bus plans

Sarah IsonBusselton Dunsborough Times
Hawker Approach homeowners Stephen Pupilli, Helen Hiddle, Abigail Cox, Lyn Osborne and Chris Watson were shocked to discover the finalised plans for GMAS' bus bays, with seven of the 16 bays to be implemented beyond the school boundary.
Camera IconHawker Approach homeowners Stephen Pupilli, Helen Hiddle, Abigail Cox, Lyn Osborne and Chris Watson were shocked to discover the finalised plans for GMAS' bus bays, with seven of the 16 bays to be implemented beyond the school boundary. Credit: Picture: Sarah Ison, Sarah Ison Busselton Dunsborough Times

Residents opposed to the proposal for a 16-bay bus embankment planned outside Georgiana Molloy Anglican School spoke out in force during the Council meeting this week, demanding greater transparency and safer options be considered.

Last week the Times reported residents received a letter from the City of Busselton revealing 16 bus bays were planned, two more than initially proposed in 2016, and half of which would be implemented outside the school boundary.

During the community access meeting on Wednesday night, Hawker Approach and Almond Parkway residents said engagement with the community had been “dismal”. They aimed most of their frustration at GMAS, saying it refused to “come to the party” and discuss plans and alternatives with residents.

Hawker Approach resident Mal Osborne said he had called the school many times and left numerous messages which were not responded to.

Mr Osborne also spoke out against the City for not offering any meaningful consultation and for rushing through a project that he said was “not safe, not of a high quality and not equitable”.

When asked why available space on school grounds was not being used, City chief executive Mike Archer said GMAS did not want to give up land that could later be used to expand the school. Mr Osborne said if GMAS couldn’t solve the issue on its own grounds, a cap on student numbers should be considered.

The need for more bays was also questioned by residents, who pointed to a lack of policing by the school of kiss-and-drop zones as a key reason for the perceived “bus and car conflict” that supposedly necessitated the embankment.

Residents suggested staggering bus arrival times and creating a queuing zone on Joseph Drive as alternatives.

The City agreed to organise a roundtable discussion between residents and GMAS early next week, with the consultation cutting it close to the project’s anticipated start date next month.

GMAS did not respond to the Times’ queries by deadline.

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