The first week of school was anything but smooth for Toongabbie and Tyers students after the Allan Labor Government left many local children without a seat on the bus.
Raising the issue in State Parliament, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Education and The Nationals MP, Melina Bath said the Department of Education had promised its “new and improved” school bus program would be seamless, but local families found it a stressful headache.
Ms Bath said after being contacted by frustrated families last week, it was uncovered around 30 public school students in Toongabbie and Tyers had been denied access to public transport to get to school.
“Labor’s “new and improved” school bus system was clearly designed with no local knowledge as it mistakenly allocated students living in Moe, Morwell, and Churchill a seat on the Toongabbie and Tyers school bus service.
“Toongabbie and Tyers public school students were told the day before the 2024 school year started that they had missed out on a seat on their school bus because it was at capacity when it wasn’t.
“This all occurred because Labor’s new system implemented by the Department of Education’s student transport office didn’t include a mapping system, nor was it tested.
“There are 54-57 seats available on these school bus services, more than enough to service demand in Toongabbie and Tyers, yet it took four days of complaints for the mistake to be taken seriously.”
Ms Bath said this was a clear case not listening to local knowledge, and symptomatic of a city centric Labor government that failed to provide an effective mapping system for rural and regional students accessing school buses.
“Parents who questioned the problem were told ‘it is the family’s responsibility to get their child to school, not the department’s’, and to “book a taxi as nothing could be done”.
“Given rural and remote students have poorer educational outcomes due to reduced access to education services compared to metropolitan students, its unacceptable that Labor ignored the right of rural students to access public transport.
“I am calling on the Minister for Education to ensure the school bus program is overhauled properly to include a mapping system and undergo rigorous testing, so this problem is not repeated anywhere else in regional Victoria.”