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Government Fails To Address Rural Concerns

Government Fails To Address Rural Concerns With Bus Drivers Licence Announcement

Federated Farmers today called on the Government to immediately wipe unnecessary bus drivers licence charges.

The federation was reacting to yesterday's announcement by the Minister of Transport of changes that provide limited relief to some drivers. "This is an illusion and will increase the cost for those who renew their bus licences annually," said Vice President and transport spokesperson Tom Lambie.

" The proposed new fee structure will hit rural communities hard. All these extra fees for bus drivers are unnecessary and should be wiped. This will hurt the educational and social opportunities for rural people."

Bus drivers who renew their licences every five years will get a reduction of about $100, from $312.50 to $199.70. However, those who pay annually will face an increase of $6 - paying $318.20 over five years. Also, if they let their bus drivers licence lapse, they may have to re-sit their licence and pay a fee of almost $400 (over five years).

"School bus services and social trips for schools' sports teams and the elderly will be hit the hardest. These services rely on a pool of part-time drivers and/or voluntary drivers. Many of these drivers are unlikely to renew their bus licences if a significant proportion of their wages are required to pay for their licences."

"It also threatens the Land Transport Safety Authority's rural road safety campaign because groups will be taken to and from sporting and social events in private motor cars, rather than in buses."

"The answer to this debacle is simple and can be applied without disturbing the re-licensing process or compromising safety objectives."

"Once people have obtained their licence to drive a bus, the only extra costs for such drivers, over and above their ordinary licence fees, should be the cost of an extra renewal within a ten year period as a five year rather than a ten year licence will be issued. Over a period of ten years, the extra cost would be less than $30 rather than the current proposal of between $400 and $636."

ENDS

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