The Canberra Liberals have committed to bringing back dedicated school bus services if they win next year's territory election, it was announced on Sunday.
The commitment comes after the ACT government introduced a new public transport network in April with the introduction of light rail to the capital.
While the new bus network included more rapid commuter routes, it did away with a significant number of dedicated school bus services, leaving parents across the territory frustrated.
ACT Shadow Minister for Transport Candice Burch said she had been inundated with complaints and stories of parents unhappy with the new bus routes.
"It's now been two school terms since the new network was rolled out and we just continue to hear from heaps of parents and school communities about how they've been negatively impacted," Ms Burch said.
"Many parents say they've had to return to driving their kids to school and a fair few as well who've told us they've had to change their work hours to be able to drive kids to school."
She said the government's transport network left dedicated bus services as a last resort prioritising active transport, such as walking or cycling, and other forms of transport ahead of buses.
The Liberals would continue to advocate active transport, she said, but would then offer dedicated school bus services as a high priority for school communities that wanted them.
Ms Burch said she was not able provide any specific numbers of routes or an estimate of costs associated with the commitment.
However, she said the school bus services would not be a redirection of current resources but promised additional services for the community.
"We wouldn't just be reverting back to the old network, because I know there are a small number of schools that are better off and are happy with current services," she said.
"We do really believe this is a basic service the government should provide."
One concern Ms Burch said she'd heard repeatedly from parents was about safety of children having to use the public bus network and navigate interchanges.
"Even if the government insists that it is safe on public buses, if there's a perceived safety concern from parents and they don't feel comfortable with their kids using the public bus network then they're not going to and they'll drive them instead," she said. Ms Burch also threw cold water on the notion that it was just children attending independent schools, travelling significant distances across town, that had been affected by the network changes.
"A huge number of public primary schools have been heavily impacted as well," she said.
"If you look at the catchment zones for public schools, and for primary schools in particular, some of those distances are requiring a six or seven-year-old child to walk five or six kilometres a day - that is just too far and parents won't do it."
A common misconception, she said, was that dedicated school buses serviced one school but in fact a bus would pick up children from a range of suburbs and drop them at multiple schools in the area.
"It's not the case that independent schools just want buses to ferry their kids across town."
Ms Burch confirmed if the Liberals were able to form government and implement the plan, they would not be staffed with voluntary shifts.
To address the driver shortages on weekends Ms Burch said the government either needed to offer penalty rates or make shifts compulsory as simply hiring more drivers was not guaranteed to solve the issue.