Swansea MP, Yasmin Catley, is calling for a review of the NSW Government’s “rigid” bus pass policy because it is “forcing children to walk long and dangerous distances to school”.
“Another school year has commenced with young children unable to get the bus to school because they have been denied School Opal cards,” she said.
“For eight-year-old Quinn McCann-Warwick of Buff Point, who has been deemed ineligible for a bus pass, the journey to school involves a walk that crosses 11 roads and takes her more than 30 minutes.
“The trip involves darting through traffic on busy roads, including Scenic Dr, as there are no pedestrian crossings or traffic lights on the way.
“Under the current rules, primary school students in Years 3 or above are only eligible for free travel to and from school if the walk to school is more than 2.3kms.
“Quinn lives a stone’s throw too close to deserve a bus pass, according to the government’s guidelines.”
Catley said the government should have a less rigid policy on issuing School Opal cards because it had a responsibility to ensure that kids get to school safely.
“In a lot of cases, we’re talking about children who have no other way to get to school than to bolt across the highway or other main roads,” she said.
“Parents tell me that their young children don’t yet have the capacity to safely navigate these journeys and fear that it’s only a matter of time before a child is hit by a car.”
Catley said she urged the Transport Minister, Andrew Constance, to consider the safety of these children and immediately review his unfair policy.
“This is not the first time I’ve urged the Transport Minister to grant travel passes to young, vulnerable children in our community,” she said.
“Parents contact me about this problem each and every year.
“I call on the Minister to come here and walk to school with these young, vulnerable children who he thinks don’t deserve a bus pass.”
Ms McCann, the mother of eight-year-old Quinn, said the thought of her child walking to school makes her very nervous.
“To me it doesn’t make sense that my six-year-old is allowed to have a bus pass but my eight-year-old is not.
“One can get the bus to school and the other has to walk, but neither has yet developed the decision-making skills to know how to safely cross the road as cars drive quickly along Scenic Dr during morning peak hour.”
Catley said the NSW Labor Policy was to introduce free public transport for all school-aged children.
Media release, Feb 9
Swansea MP, Yasmin Catley