No student to be left behind

Bus strikeCentral Coast Buses

The region’s public transport providers have given Central Coast families piece of mind that no child will be left behind as students return to school en masse.

When the NSW Government announced that it was scrapping the staged return to school last week in favour of a full return to face to face learning, families raised the alarm over what this meant for students reliant on school bus services and other forms of public transport to get to and from school.

Between them, Busways, Coastal Liners and Red Bus Services provide the lion’s share of the Coast’s school bus runs.

The Chronicle approached all three for comment on how their services will operate.

“Busways wants to clarify that school services are not affected and will not have limited capacity,” a spokesperson said.

“School services will continue to operate as normal.

“NSW Health advice is that children are at lower risk of contracting COVID-19.

“Transport for NSW and Busways have increased cleaning measures on board bus services and will continue to monitor transport usage to support students travelling safely to and from school.

“Our policy is that no school student will be left behind and as such, school students will be given priority over other passengers on regular route services, even if this means a service goes over physical distancing capacity.

“Adults may have to wait for the next service or choose to get off if they’re not comfortable with how many customers are on a service.

“Students are still required tap on and off with their Opal card or show their school bus pass when boarding,” the spokesperson said.

CDC NSW is Coastal Liners’ parent company and it also confirmed that no student that travels to or from school via one of its buses would ever be left stranded.

CDC NSW CEO, Wayne Jeff, said a range of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus were already in place on their buses, including continual additional cleaning, comprehensive health checks for drivers, and physical distancing on all buses.

However, he did note that physical distancing between students on school buses was not required by Transport for NSW or NSW Health.

“CDC NSW will continue to work closely with Transport for NSW to ensure the safety of all passengers,” he said.

Red Bus Services declined to comment and advised that inquiries of that nature should be directed to Transport for NSW.

Transport for NSW (TFNSW) was also approached and confirmed its position that no student would be turned away from any form of public transport.

A spokesperson for TFNSW said hundreds of extra staff had been deployed across the network to assist people returning to work and school.

“From May 25, extra transport staff will be out and about to help people maintain physical distancing and stay safe when travelling on the network to slow the spread of coronavirus,” a TFNSW spokesperson said.

“Transport staff will monitor physical distancing, assist with crowd management and provide extra guidance to help customers move through stations and interchanges safely.

“This could mean forming lines at bus stops or limiting the amount of people who can enter onto a platform.

“TFNSW has placed green dots across the entire network to show the safest places to sit and stand.

“No school student will be turned away from any public transport, even if this means physical distancing won’t always be possible.

“Parents and carers should make travel choices which suit their individual circumstances, including driving, walking and cycling,” the spokesperson said.

They added that TFNSW had also committed to a more stringent cleaning regime.

“Transport for NSW has increased cleaning across public transport, with more than 700 extra cleaners hired since March.

“These efforts include cleaners boarding buses to clean high touch areas, including Opal card readers and stop buttons, in preparation for the next service,” the spokesperson said.

Busways had the following advice for families.

“Students are reminded that we all have a responsibility to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Where possible, students should maintain social distance from each other on board bus services.

“If different school groups are boarding a bus, each school should maintain social distance from the other and students should always maintain a safe distance from their bus driver, where practically possible.”

Media statements, May 25
Busways Media Unit
Wayne Jeff, CDC NSW
Red Bus Services
Transport for NSW Media Unit
Reporter: Dilon Luke