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Government cuts corners on school bus funding

The safety of children – not cost cutting – should be the main objective behind the Government’s funding of school buses, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.

“Buried in the detail of this year’s Budget are $19 million of funding cuts for school transport.

“This comes at a time when the safety of school buses is in the spotlight following the horror ride for Green Bay students on Monday afternoon by a relief driver.

“This highlights the need for children to have consistent and specifically trained drivers.

“National’s push to save money through ‘operational efficiencies’ and ‘improving commercial arrangements’ will result in changes to some school bus services and their drivers.

“The Ministry of Education says it takes the safety of students using its contracted bus services ‘very seriously’. For that reason all school bus drivers are police-vetted and undergo additional training.

“The Government must assure parents the Ministry’s commitment to safety is not in jeopardy because of its cost cutting.

“No parent wants their children to go through what the traumatised Green Bay students went through on Monday; especially if it is only to save the Government some money,” Chris Hipkins says