PRIMARY school principals are adamant student safety remains at risk under Warrnambool’s new bus network, despite assurances from the state’s transport office.
Warrnambool’s new bus network, to be launched later this year, will mark the first time in the city’s history that services will run every 30 minutes during peak times.
But the initiative has been overshadowed by worries from school leaders that merging the school and public bus network will place students at in harm’s way, particularly prep pupils.
Two Warrnambool principals yesterday told The Standard students will have swap buses at the busy Koroit Street interchange.
“We’ve got kids at school here and even though the road outside may be 40 kilometres and hour they will run straight across it because they might be in prep and they’ve seen mum,” Warrnambool West Primary School principal Warwick Price said.
“I would hate to get that phone call at 9.30am.”
Only students travelling to the closest primary school to their home will get there express. Others will have to switch at the interchange.
Public Transport Victoria (PTV) met with Warrnambool principals in the middle of August to hear concerns and told The Standard minor changes would mean only a minimal number of children would have to pass through Koroit Street.
A PTV spokeswoman said it had analysed enrolments across Warrnambool to make sure students “travel on a single, direct bus route”.
“This will mean that the only students who need to interchange at Koroit Street are those who choose to attend a school outside their local area. Timetables will be co-ordinated to ensure good connections and minimal wait times at Koroit Street,” she said.
“From our discussions with local principals, we’ve made some changes to the way schools are serviced, with some route alterations being developed to better link students to their local school.”
Among other school concerns is the relocation of bus stops further away from schools.
Mr Price said students would potentially have to walk 500 metres to a new bus stop.
“We’ll have to pay someone to walk them. They have not thought this through with children in mind.”
Warrnambool Primary School principal Peter Auchettl said: “The children will be worse off than they are under the current system.”
“The actual model hasn’t changed one bit.”
Both principals said PTV had kept the schools informed, but warned it was determined to push forward despite concerns.