24 March, 2016
My contribution tonight is directed to the Minister for Education, and my request of the minister is to allow the public funded bus that currently takes Warrandyte Primary School students from north of the Yarra to also carry students that go to Anderson's Creek Primary School. Currently the bus, which is government funded, has a number of empty seats. The Warrandyte Primary School students certainly do not fill the bus, and it seems like common sense with Anderson's Creek Primary School being only 1 kilometre away from Warrandyte Primary School that the students of that school could use this bus as well.
I initially wrote to the Minister for Education asking for assistance in this regard. His response was to refer me to the Minister for Public Transport, which is absolutely fine, and I have to say that the Minister for Public Transport did respond to me and say that it seemed like an eminently sensible idea. Indeed she directed an officer from Public Transport Victoria (PTV) to meet with me and the principal of Anderson's Creek Primary School to see how we could work that through, so I want to put on record my appreciation to the Minister for Public Transport for helping that to happen.
The meeting was very productive, and as I said the officer from PTV said it was a very sensible approach and agreed that having a two-thirds empty bus coming across the Yarra River bridge crossing in Warrandyte without those extra seats taken up seemed to be a bit of a waste of time and indeed that we could get some cars off the road at that particular congestion point if we did use that bus. The PTV officer went away certainly saying that he thought he could move things along.
He has since come back to the school and to me and said that it actually is the Minister for Education's responsibility and that the Department of Education and Training (DET) was sticking by its policy of not allowing students from another school to take seats on that bus. The one ray of hope that I have is that in fact DET said that, while it was holding firm with the policy, the policy is that a fare should be paid, and I think that Anderson's Creek Primary School parents would be happy to discuss the options of some sort of yearly fare. If that is what it would take to actually utilise these empty seats and to ease traffic coming into Warrandyte, then parents are happy to have that conversation, so I hope that we will be able to move forward with this particular matter.
Again I want to put on record my thanks to the Minister for Public Transport for her understanding and willingness to find a sensible outcome in this regard, and I trust the Minister for Education can follow her lead by instructing the Department of Education and Training to find a sensible way forward and indeed find a solution that will enable these Anderson's Creek Primary School students to use the bus that is currently being utilised for some Warrandyte Primary School students.