My daughter went off on school camp yesterday on a hired school bus.
She was travelling to a camping ground about an hour and a half away from school.
But as we so often hear is the case, the school bus broke down on the way there.
She has friends who regularly catch hired school buses to travel 40 minutes to and from school everyday, and it’s become a running joke between them how often their buses break down.
I raise this because I wonder; one, why school buses designed specifically to transport children longer distances, aren’t seemingly up for the job.
And two, because of news yesterday that the government has delayed awarding the tenders to run school buses due to alleged safety concerns.
First Union apparently raised concerns to ministers alleging maintenance failings and it’s been reported that some bus drivers back up those concerns.
According to reports, First Union ‘wrote to the Minister of Education last month asking for a delay on the tender process until employment and safety issues’ were addressed.
But it’s not just the Union, drivers are weighing in too.
One reported brakes not working at a stop sign, and when he phoned the company to tell them he had no brakes, he was asked if he could complete his run. I mean hello?
Other school bus drivers reportedly claimed brakes among other faults on their buses and the thrust of the issues according to them, is lack of maintenance.
So how is this possible?
How is this allowed to happen and why isn’t the Ministry of Education or NZTA jumping up and down about it?
Where is Worksafe?
One school bus driver, for the Ritchies Murphy's buses, reportedly said, ‘the state of the school buses are such that I would not allow my children on them." He said they’re “riddled with faults”.
How’s that for a vote of confidence?
The school bus companies reject this, Ritchies for example reportedly says it’s all innuendo.
And to be fair, they’re not the only operator in the school bus market.
But they do claim on their website to be NZ’s ‘most trusted’.
As a parent and casual observer from the sidelines of school buses, not just those in regular rotation but also those trucking off to school camp. I’m pretty sure the ‘innuendo’ isn’t far from the truth.