School bus squeeze still an issue

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Pierra WillixBusselton Dunsborough Times
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The Public Transport Authority says it is working to redirect school bus routes in Dunsborough to address overcrowding.
Camera IconThe Public Transport Authority says it is working to redirect school bus routes in Dunsborough to address overcrowding. Credit: WA News

The Public Transport Authority says it is working to redirect school bus routes in Dunsborough to address overcrowding.

The Times previously reported on overcrowding on school buses travelling between Dunsborough and Busselton, with the new school year renewing calls for improved safety measures.

The Times was contacted by parents with children at schools including Georgiana Molloy Anglican School, St Mary MacKillop College and Cape Naturaliste College. Many were worried about the extent of overcrowding, which they said had been an ongoing issue for years.

GMAS parent Sussane Siegrist said her son regularly returned home from school with a fully packed heavy bag because he rushed to get on the bus after school to ensure he would get a seat.

Liz Schmitt said her daughter started at Cape Naturaliste College this year and had fallen over many times on the bus due to having to stand regularly.

“I’m concerned if there was an accident or even a sudden major stop those students will be hurt,” she said.

“It is not safe.”

PTA spokesman David Hynes said after monitoring bus patronage on its services a minor route change would be implemented on two bus services that would transfer 10-12 students to another lower-patronised service.

Mr Hynes said it was expected the change would result in an average of 30-35 students on each bus service, well below the number of seats on the bus (51).

However, one Year 12 student told the Times she had been travelling on an overcrowded school bus for the past five years and said the conditions were “unacceptable”, and not satisfactory for students who spent an average of five hours on the bus each week.

Mr Hynes said Regional Town Bus Services continued to monitor demand on one particular route, which was averaging about 52 passengers in the morning, with the seated capacity being 51, although it can legally carry up to 76 passengers.

“RTBS is looking at options to spread the load better on this service,” he said.

Parent Simon O’Connor said overcrowding was an issue which needed to be rectified so children were not put at risk.

“I understand if they are travelling in Dunsborough where they would only be travelling 60km/h. But when they are on a bus that is doing 90km/h everyone should be sitting; it is a no-brainer,” he said.

Mr O’Connor said there were no excuses for someone being injured on a school bus while they were going to school.

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