Don't exclude us: parents call for school bus passes

The safety of about 20 children is being put at risk every school day, according to a group of concerned Springwood parents.

The students, who live about 2km from Ellison Public School, are unable to access free bus passes as they are within the 2.6km free bus pass zone for students in Year 2 and above.

Bronwyn Taylor has two children who attend Ellison Public. She has appealed against the decision to not grant her kids a bus pass on the grounds that crossing Hawkesbury Rd to access the footpath to walk to school is unsafe.

Walking on the other side of the road to cross at the traffic lights at the school is not an option as there is no footpath by the Springwood Country Club.

The Department of Transport rejected the appeal, saying the pedestrian refuge near Moore Rd was a safe place to cross, Ms Taylor said.

“I’d like to see them rule it as unsafe and give kids that have to cross Hawkesbury Rd, let them have a bus pass,” she said.

“It [the ruling] should be based on the conditions of the road.

The small refuge was not a big enough space to hold a large group of people, as is often the case at school start and finish times, the parents said. 

“It’s a shocking road. It can take 10 minutes standing on the side of the road to cross,” said parent Faith Hill.

“The bus is literally passing our houses and there are seats for them. We want all our children to be safe. To put kids lives at risk just for a few dollars ...” Ruth Ezzy said.

The students are able to access the bus at a cost of $8.80 each per 10 visit pass, but for struggling families that’s a cost they can do without.

“That’s nearly $400 per year just for one child,” Ms Taylor said.

A Transport for NSW spokesperson said in Ms Taylor’s case, a safe walking route to school was determined in accordance with its guidelines, which assessed the pedestrian facilities, such as the pedestrian refuge on Hawkesbury Rd.

“Ultimately, parents are responsible for deciding how their children get to and from school including whether they are capable of walking a particular route.

”If a parent decides their child is not capable of walking a route deemed safe by Transport for NSW and their child is not eligible for a free bus pass, they can still catch the bus by purchasing a discounted school term pass, which costs about $1 per school day,” the spokesperson said.

“We understand some families disagree with the decision and we support their right to appeal through the SSTS (School Student Transport Scheme) Appeals Panel.

”The panel may uphold an appeal if it decides that special circumstances apply, such as financial hardship or when a family experiences exceptional issues in transporting a child to school who is not eligible for free school transport.”

Blue Mountains MP Roza Sage said she had made representations to the Minister for Transport, Gladys Berejiklian, on behalf of Ms Taylor and her daughter Jessica. 

“It is now my understanding there are a number of families with similar concerns regarding the bus pass scheme and the safety of their children when travelling to and from school.

 “To ensure all these families are able to put their case forward, I have offered to meet with them on site,” she said.

 “Parents should be able to feel comfortable their children will arrive to and from school safely and if there is any inflexibility in the bus pass program then I will be happy to take the matter up with the Minister for Transport on their behalf.”

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