The Ministry of Education, which is planning to withdraw 10 rural school bus routes, says it will continue to fund the services until the end of 2015 to allow Waikato Regional Council to plan for an increased demand on public transport.
The commitment was made today during a meeting in Hamilton organised by the regional council, and attended by the NZ Transport Agency, district and city councillors and principals.
The parties recognised that a number of significant issues were still being addressed and committed to ongoing dialogue to explore all options that would result in an acceptable outcome to all.
The meeting was called to hear details of the Ministry’s intent to withdraw school bus routes so it could be taken into account in the regional council’s review of its public transport plan.
The 10 routes bring students into Hamilton from Hauraki, Matamata-Piako, Waikato and Waipa districts to attend three ‘special character’ schools – Sacred Heart Girls College, St John's College and Waikato Diocesan School for Girls.
Waikato Regional Council’s public bus services would not currently be able to accommodate all the students during the morning and afternoon peak.
“We must continue to work through this issue to mitigate impacts on ratepayers and our existing commuters,” said Waikato regional councillor, Lois Livingston.
“There are lots of people trying to work this through from central government, local government and our schools to manage this.
“The community will also have an opportunity to help shape Waikato’s public bus services when our draft plan is released later this year,” said Cr Livingston, chair of the regional public transport plan development committee.
The draft regional public transport plan is due to be released by the Waikato Regional Council for public comment in November, with community feedback to inform decisions on the final plan being adopted next year.