Should responsibility for school buses change?

Hello and welcome to the discussion forum on the review of school bus services in regional SA.

How would the transfer of government school bus responsibility from the Department for Education to the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure make services more effective and efficient?

Read the Review of School Bus Services Terms of Reference(Opens in a new window) and the SA School Transport Policy(Opens in a new window) and provide your feedback in the discussion below.

Comments closed

Kasey Cunneen

15 Feb 2019

The Education Department have a great understanding of the needs and requirements around bus runs and routes. They have a personal connection with students & their families and open communication lines for ease of any conflict resolution or special requests required. DPTI would need to appoint staff to liaise with parents and students ensuring needs where met, conflicts on buses such as bullying were dealt with, behaviour was kept at a standard required by the bus driver for concentration, etc. Schools already have policy’s in place to deal with these issue would this change? Would DPTI take these responsibility’s and the added duty of care onboard? Will DPTI ensure my concerns are taken seriously if my child is being bullied? How will they do this?
Drives are often supplied from the school itself, many of our drives are trained teachers or SSOs which is beneficial to the safety of our children. It also gives rural schools the opportunity to increase staff hours if required.
Some students have learning disabilities or medical conditions and with the Department of Education in charge of bus runs this information is already being shared with drivers with ease & great success. How will this work if DPTI take over? Will they ensure my child with a peanut allergy does not come into contact with peanuts while in their care? Safety of our children should be a priority over cost cutting. The Educaution Department are trained and qualified to deal with these potential risks. ‘Children’ are their expertise and they do it well. Transporting children still requires this expertise not just a knowledge of the transport industry & how best to run a bus route.
Rural schools also require access to buses outside of just school runs. Will our schools still have access to buses for camps & excursions? Will DPTI expect the Education Department to fund this access? Will fees be charged for use of buses for school excursions, camps, etc? I live in a small rural community with many low socioeconomic families who’s children’s only experience’s & insights outside of our small community are made possible by these opportunities given via the school. Possible bus associated fees would make these experience’s had via camps & excursion cost prohibitive thus disadvantaging those children even more.
DPTI don’t have the understanding & knowledge of rural communities, bus routes & requirements like our Education Department, teachers & schools currently do. Also please understand the needs of SMALL RURAL towns are very different to those in regional SA & the cities.

Leah Breen

15 Feb 2019

In my opinion - yes. As with all government departments I think that the success of such a system depends on the correct people running the bus service. If a high level of service can be achieved under an efficient cost model then the economies of scale effectively demand that the services should improve across the sector. If buses were allocated by DPTI under a system of analysis of residential location and school of choice location, the services could be tailored to be more comprehensive and effective for less cost per patron. This must be the aim. In conjunction with a minimisation of the current inefficiencies this should result in an improved service.

Paul Vatsilas

14 Feb 2019

The regional school bus is a service that ought to be provided by schools and the Department for Education, as the school has a better understanding of the needs of the students and their families’ requirements. There should be no discussion about whether the students are from government or, non-government schools. Regional families need to utilise a ‘safe’ transport service for their children to attend school regardless of the demographic.

Busses used to transport children to and from school and, on excursions should be operated by professional drivers who are engaged directly by the school. Drivers who consider it their responsibility to exercise the duty of care to the students, their families and the school.

Being a regional school bus driver, I have a close relationship with the school. As I have a set run, I am able to get to know the students and their individual behaviours. In understanding their personalities and needs I am able to ensure my duty of care to not only the students but their parents, carers and also to the school.

Understanding of the student’s individual nature allows me to:
• Ensure their safety from potential bullies on the bus
• Ensure they arrive safely at their destination
• Assist the children who need extra support, daily (eg. reminding them how and when to cross the road safely after exiting the bus)
• Report on any issues that should be brought to the attention of the school

School staff are responsible primarily for the education and safety of the students. Safety should extend to the transport of the students. Staff should not have to book and schedule different busses/drivers for excursions when the responsibility can be provided ‘in house’ and at a moments notice if required.

The students and their family deserve to have one regular driver, and a school owned vehicle, that is controlled by the Department for Education. Not a variety of rostered drivers, which may occur if controlled by DPTI. These drivers may not have an opportunity to develop an understanding of the requirements and needs of the school, affected regional families and, most importantly the children who utilise the service.

An educator is responsible for the education of the students. A school business manager has the ability and scope throughout their role to be able to ensure the effective operation and use of transport that is owned by the school / Department for Education.

Should the care and safe transport our our children be in the control of Department for Planning, Transport and Infrastructure or, remain with the Department for Education, those that have a duty of care for our children?

Martin Hayes

14 Feb 2019

Absolutely.

-The current system is very much weighted towards Government school students, so there is obviously an equity issue.

-There is also the time and resources that those Government Schools who are put in charge of coordinating bus services need to outlay to ensure the smooth running of a bus service. Having liased with educators who have had this role, I am somewhat aware of the enormous amount of time that they have to dedicate to all of the “issues” that arise (and I am not talking about children’s behaviour on the buses) and I do not envy them. Educators should not do this job – they should be dedicating their time to children, their expertise. Department of Transport people should be responsible for buses and their associated issues, this would be their expertise.

Callie Siwak

14 Feb 2019

Best results are always achieved when services are run by those with the experience and expertise. Education should stick to education; Transport should run transport. However, they should run it in a manner which is fair and just to all communities and families.

Government Agency

School Bus Review team

14 Feb 2019

Thankyou for participating in the online discussion in response to the school bus review currently being conducted for school buses in regional South Australia. All responses will be considered and collated at the end of the consultation, which will assist in forming the report to Government.

Megan Howell

14 Feb 2019

If responsibility of managing the school bus service were to moves from the Education Department to DPTI it would take nearly a decade to complete the transition as it did in Western Australia. Also DPTI doesn’t have the greatest reputation in running metro public transport service why would we want that for our rural students. I can envision DPTI setting ridged set routes and if it’s not going near your home or the school you want to attend, well then tough.

There is also the very significant concerns around child safety and I believe the Education Department is best suited to understanding then specific needs of students traveling in some cases up to an hour on a school bus.

David Green

13 Feb 2019

Absolutely! What is a bus? A mode of transport. If the Dept for Transport was to take over the responsibility, we may see less biased decisions made in regards to who is eligible and ineligible to access these resources. The Education Department have it's hands full trying to ensure a suitable education across its many sites. Where the buses stop and what uniforms are being worn by student passengers should be released into the hands of the transport Dept. They know the system and would be better equipped to make decisions which will impact most positively for all people. It's their portfolio, it's their field. The Education Dept trying to manipulate the access of buses is demonstrating a significant bias and is not inclusive of all young South Australians.

Sophie Millington

13 Feb 2019

Our belief is that levels of efficiency are best achieved when services are run by those with the relevant expertise. Education take charge of educating our students and Transport should run our transport services. Whilst the safety of students will always be the responsibility of Education, Principals should be able to focus on their core role or educating students and not whether 'who is what status' on our bus system!

George Millington

13 Feb 2019

Education should stick to education; Transport should run transport. Principals need to be able to focus on their core role, which is educating our students and not on running or allocating bus seats/services.

Jo Williams

12 Feb 2019

My main concern would be child safety. As our children are currently under the protection of the individual Schools and Education Department when they are travelling on our busses, I fear if the responsibility were to change there would be less accountability for our children's safety. Some of our children travel very long distances on school busses and it is such a comfort to know that the school has responsibility for our children whilst they are on the department busses. Who would have responsibility for our children if the service was to move to a public system?

Also the role of the school bus is to get the children to school on time and in the most efficient time frame. If the system was not managed with local import from the school, I can imagine that routes would not always be the most efficient and times travelled on the buses for our children would increase. Local knowledge is key to having an efficient system.

Jo Williams > Jo Williams

12 Feb 2019

Also the schools currently have access to department buses for school excursions, extra curricular activities and camps. Our school, like many, are a small country school with many of the community facing low socioeconomic issues. If bus system were to be made public, the cost of hiring the buses for school use would inevitability cause less of the extra curricular opportunities being offered to our children as it would simply become cost prohibitive.

Karly Proctor

12 Feb 2019

I feel our teachers already have busy schedules trying to educate our children. Many hours are spent by teaching staff trying to solve bus issues. Passing the responsibility to the appropriate govt department would allow people specialised in the area to operate better bus transport.

Anna McVann Hawker

11 Feb 2019

It makes sense for Education to manage education, transport to manage transport. I know for a fact that many hours of time and energy have been lost by staff and Principals trying to coordinate bus services which could have been better utilised in the classroom educating our children. Principals and staff should be focussed on educating children and the department of transport should be working with the Education department to ensure that a safe and effective bus service is transporting our children to the school of their choice in regional SA

Christine Kemp

11 Feb 2019

It would probably make bus usage fairer for all if the bus service was not run by the education department as they would not feel the entitlement to prioritise government students over non-gov students. Besides, teachers teach, so let's allow those who are knowledgeable in transport run the bus services.

Ann Hoskings

11 Feb 2019

For decades Dep of ED ran buses for Dep of Ed students, increasing demands for transport to non-govt schools complicates the issue. If the charter is altered to cater for all students to attend their nearest school of choice whether govt or non-govt situation is easier. Buses should not allow students to bypass one school in favour of another . Special circumstances will arise no doubt.
Rules for provision of buses eg numbers required to service a route need to be based on school enrolment eg small rural schools with 20 - 30 students, perhaps all those with less than 100 students, should work under a different framework . Mini buse are available to service a couple of families with say 5 - 6 students which may make up a significant part of that schools enrolment.

Deb Schwerdt

11 Feb 2019

Then at least kids with a disability may have the right to school bus transport instead of being discriminated against

Jason Gilles

11 Feb 2019

I doubt it would make services more effective or efficient. Let's not forget we're talking about state government departments- efficiency and efficacy really isn't a part of this conversation.

School bus services are intertwined with education- it makes no sense to move management of those services to a department that is not 100% aligned with education.

Lauren Hill

10 Feb 2019

The decision regarding transport to and from school needs to reside with a department that is au fait with planning and scheduling transport for a living; so the responsibility of the school buses should go to the DPTI. However, i also believe that the staff currently sitting in transport for the DE should move across and job share/amalgamate with DPTI so that rural schools don't lose their autonomy, and the department doesn't lose sight of what is really important.... stress free access to an education and the safety of our children in transit!

Shane Rowe

08 Feb 2019

Education department- DECE. Still has control of the school buses. But maybe certain schools would be allocated the seats needed to have this share transport for certain region.

Tamara Philps

07 Feb 2019

I think if it's not broken, why fix it. I think the Dept of Education should keep the responsibility. They've had it for many years and seem to do well. I cannot see the advantage of putting it under the Dept of Planning's umbrella. Leave it alone. :)

Government Agency

School Bus Review team

07 Feb 2019

Thank you for taking the time to join our online discussion in relation to the review of school bus services in regional South Australia. All the feedback we receive during this consultation phase will be considered as part of the review and collated to form part of the report to Government.

Damian Smith

07 Feb 2019

Part of the State Government’s rationale for moving Year 7’s into the secondary setting was to bring South Australia into alignment with the other states and territories. I understand that in most other states and territories, school buses are the responsibility of the Minister of Transport and don’t fall under the Education portfolio. Perhaps we should align ourselves with the other states and territories on this issue as well because it doesn’t seem to be as contentious elsewhere around Australia. The experiences of families who are affected by this would say that their freedom of choice to send their child to a non-government school determines their access to school buses to attend that school.. Therefore, their ‘choice’ is actually conditional and the somewhat restricted, especially in rural and remote areas.

Ultimately, as long as the Bus Policy is fair and equitable for all families, I don’t think people really mind where the responsibility lies.

Benjamin Lawrie

07 Feb 2019

Country schools are more than able to manage their own buses and have been doing so for years to get kids to school from farming areas not supported by government funded bus routes. Giving country schools control of their own bus routes will not only make school transport more efficient but will take pressure of understaffed government departments who struggle to understand the logistical nuances required when planning bus routes in farming communities.

Terre Humphries

06 Feb 2019

The biggest problem with DECS is the school buses that they purchase for the country schools are not up to the standards needed for driving on our country roads. Most are cheap knockoffs poorly designed that can't handle dirt roads that are dusty, muddy and have lots of corrugations and potholes causing the buses to need constant repairs. we need similar buses like the Americans have that can handle all sorts of road conditions. After driving large trucks for many years and now a school bus it's obvious that the person signing off on the purchase of the school buses only considered them for highway use.

Toni Duka

06 Feb 2019

Who could possibly know - neither department has a fabulous record of making things easy really.....

Toni Duka > Toni Duka

06 Feb 2019

Either way - child safety has to be the primary consideration, followed by reduction of red tape!