ACTION Buses is set to amalgamate, change or cancel around one in five school bus services as part of upcoming changes to the bus service network.
Parents are in the dark as to which services might go, but have been told the changes will be implemented in term three.
ACTION currently operates 300 school bus services, a number that will be reduced to around 240 after the mid-year holidays, leaving parents concerned young children could be forced to use busy public bus interchanges.
A Territory and Municipal Services spokesperson confirmed that a review of school service passengers has been conducted over the past year, and will result in the following changes:
- 35 school services will be amalgamated with existing school runs;
- 16 services will be removed as they ''duplicate existing route services'';
- 17 school services have been redesigned to become a connecting service to a bus station to transfer to a school dedicated service;
- 8 new school services will be implemented in the changes.
''When the introduction date of the new network, Network 14, is confirmed, the changes will be provided to all schools,'' the spokesperson said. ''Two weeks’ notice of proposed changes to schools service is normally given.''
The Association of Parents and Friends of ACT Schools (APFACTS) said two weeks was not enough notice for parents.
''That’s a major concern for us – it was going to be the last day of school and then parents have the school holidays to figure out what the alternative would be; really that isn’t enough time,'' APFACTS executive officer, Julie Sengleman, said.
''When schools want to ... request [a school bus service] they have to have done that 18 months in advance, whereas we’re told it’s only a couple of weeks’ notice coming back the other way.''
Ms Sengleman said APFACTS understood the need for efficiencies and that ''duplication of services needs to be addressed'', but is calling for more consultation with parents.
She said the data collected by MyWay cards in forming the decisions had its limitations, as it doesn’t track the ages of the students using the services due to privacy issues.
''Potentially there could be a lot of younger children going through busy bus interchanges, which is not ideal for anyone,'' Ms Sengleman said. ''It potentially could affect all areas ... but it’s all a bit of a guess really.''