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Melina Bath urges Victorian Education Minister to overhaul flawed bus program to ensure proper seat allocation

Melina Bath's adjournment matter calls for the Minister for Education to review and revamp the flawed school bus program, incorporating local mapping and rigorous testing to ensure proper student seat allocation.

By news@gippsland - 6th February 2024 - Back to News

My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Education. What should have been, at the start of a school year, a happy time for parents and students of Toongabbie and Tyers actually became an incredibly stressful period for them when a new Department of Education-revamped school bus program failed them dismally.

About 30 families affected with returning students in Toongabbie and Tyers left without bus seats due to system failure

About 30 families affected with returning students in Toongabbie and Tyers left without bus seats due to system failure

School bus reform

The action I seek is for the minister to reassess this school bus program, have a look at it and overhaul it to make sure it includes local mapping systems and undergo rigorous testing to ensure that school students are properly allocated a seat on their normal bus route.

As I said, at the end of last year there was a new system put in place by the student transport unit in the education department. Approximately 30 families were impacted; 30 students around Toongabbie and Tyers were left without a seat on their bus. Now, these students were not necessarily new students, they were returning students, so in the past the whole system had been working.

When distressed parents contacted the education department they were told - and I understand many of them have certainly contacted me by email through to my office, and also Danny O'Brien and indeed Martin Cameron - that it is the family's responsibility to get their child to school and they could think about booking a taxi.

Program needs to be redesigned

This is clearly an administrative bungle by a new operation that is centred in central Melbourne and does not have any localised context. I will give you an example: students living in the towns of Moe, Churchill and Morwell were allocated seats on the Toongabbie bus.

If you know Latrobe Valley, you will know that it is directly separate and in the opposite direction to the Toongabbie bus. It is just a source of frustration that our local parents do not need. I also understand that the local bus coordinators are now manually allocating the students to the correct bus network.

What should have been a seamless operation has turned into a headache for parents and the local schools and school bus coordinators. So the action I seek from the minister is to ensure that this school bus program is overhauled to include a mapping system that is tested to stand up to the actual realities of where people, their towns and the schools that they are going to, are.

Pictures from Public Transport Victoria website.


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