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National calls for school bus contract moratorium

Anne Tolley MP
National Party Education Spokeswoman

18 September 2008

National calls for school bus contract moratorium

Rural schools throughout New Zealand are dismayed at Labour’s decision to award bus contracts in a process that was flawed from start to finish, says National’s Education spokeswoman, Anne Tolley.

“Over-riding small local bus companies to favour several large bus companies won’t work and some schools fear their bus route will not prove economical for the big operators.

“I have been inundated with phone calls and emails from school staff who naturally fear their children will be left walking to school because their local school bus operator has been ditched for the big wigs.

“The Minister should step in and call a halt to this now.

“Rural schools depend on school bus services. If there is no service, the children do not have another option.

“History has proven that a school bus service is the difference between a rural school being viable or not.

“Most of the phone calls I have fielded are from rural school principals who are very afraid an uneconomic school bus service will result in a withdrawal of the service and mean the ultimate demise of their school.

“This is serious. The Ministry of Education has put these bus routes up for tender knowing only the big operators will have a chance of being competitive, and ignored the more important issues of supply and the future of rural schools.

“Already rural schools are facing draconian measures from the Ministry like being directly resourced to provide their own transport but then being directed as to which children they can and cannot collect. Add to that this tendering debacle and it is clear the Minister has lost control and the rural schooling sector is facing chaos.

“I am calling on the Ministry to immediately put a moratorium on this whole rural school bus service review until we have rock solid assurances that rural school children will not be left high and dry by these decisions.”

ENDS

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