Minister called on to fund school bus infrastructure

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath has called on the Education Minister in State Parliament to fund school bus infrastructure for Waratah Bay school students.

Foster Secondary College will undertake infrastructure works to upgrade the stop on Meikle Road to safely accommodate two buses at their own cost.

Ms Bath said the State Government should cover the expenses for the Meikle Road bus stop upgrade, rather than Foster Secondary College paying out of their own budget.

“It is unjust a school should take financial responsibility for what is essentially a State Government education matter.”

Families and Foster Secondary College have been working with Ms Bath to solve the school bus issue in Waratah Bay, which has been ongoing for many years.

Ms Bath said following a long campaign by families, exceptional coordination by Foster Secondary College and two bus companies, Waratah Bay secondary students will finally travel by school bus with ease in 2020.

“The Education Department has largely ignored pleas from Waratah Bay families and Foster Secondary School who instructed the school to ‘sort it out’, said Ms Bath.

“It is disappointing parents have been forced to drive students five kilometres to the top road just to catch a school bus.”

The 10 Waratah Bay students had been stranded and unable to catch a school bus in town because the Foster Secondary College school bus is not permitted to detour from Sandy Point.

Ms Bath said it is important the Andrews Labor Government recognise rural and regional Victorians face challenges around isolation and transportation, getting to school is one of these.

“It is disappointing the Education Department has had a hands off approach to solving an important community issue.

“It has only been through the tenacity and hard work of Foster Secondary College, Waratah Bay parents and two bus companies could a solution occur.

From next year, the Fish Creek Primary School bus will be detouring to pick up the 10 Waratah Bay students.

A bus crossover with the Foster Secondary College bus will occur at Meikle Road, enabling the secondary students to conveniently travel to school.

“Foster Secondary College, Waratah Bay families and the bus companies are to be congratulated for negotiating and implementing a permanent transport solution to support these young people access a quality education.”