‘Danger’ in bus stop change

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Joanna Baxter is raising concerns after her children's bus stop was relocated due to safety issues. The new site means she now has to walk her children, and the neighbour's, to a site further along a stretch of rural SH1, whic is a 100km/h zone.

by Alexia Johnston

A Timaru mother braves a 200m walk along rural State Highway 1 with her children twice a day, after their school bus stop was removed due to safety concerns.

The bus stop was originally located outside Joanna Baxter’s main road address, across the road in a 100kmh zone.

It was removed at the end of term one by Grantlea Downs School’s board of trustees.

The move followed concerns raised by truck company Temuka Transport.

“We investigated the new stop thoroughly with the families involved and sought further advice from NZTA and Temuka Transport to ensure that turning in and out of Divan Rd was a safer option.” – Collette Sandilands

A company spokeswoman said there had been a high risk of a nose-to-tail crash, particularly when truck drivers had to slow down to pass the bus in the 100kmh zone.

Mrs Baxter, along with her neighbours the White family, were provided an alternative route on Divan Rd, Levels.

She said the new site was no safer because she walked her four children and the Whites’ two sons to the bus stop.

“[The old stop] is safer than the current one, in our opinion,” Mrs Baxter said.

“It’s much safer than the current one.

“It’s a private yard we [used] to wait in, behind a fence.”

She said there was no verge to walk on, along her side of the road, so she returned home with the children, including a toddler in a pushchair, walking towards the flow of oncoming traffic.

Grantlea Downs School principal Collette Sandilands said conversations with the NZ Transport Agency, Temuka Transport and the school’s bus driver found the new site at Divan Rd to be a safer option.

She said the Divan Rd stop was decided on in conjunction with the two families.

“We investigated the new stop thoroughly with the families involved and sought further advice from NZTA and Temuka Transport to ensure that turning in and out of Divan Rd was a safer option,” Mrs Sandilands said.

“The school has bent over backwards to accommodate the families involved, especially as they did have the option to go up to the Blue Barn/Acacia Dr or at the race course stops, where a number of our other families get picked up safely, but they have chosen not to.”

The Divan Rd bus stop, although regarded as “temporary”, would remain unless it was deemed unsafe, Mrs Sandilands said.

“Bus routes change due to a number of variables and it is up to the school to determine which stops meet the criteria,” she said.

She said the school followed Ministry of Education transport guidelines.