As a regional school, buses are a topic that is seldom welcomed when it arrives unannounced at the Principal’s door.
The issue that arrives usually consists on one or more of the following:
- late buses
- buses too big or small for purpose
- buses that won’t start when we are ready to leave
- overcrowded buses
- dysfunctional bus routes
- double booked buses (including by us)
- buses held up in traffic
- poor student behaviour on buses (thankfully very rare at St Columba)
- buses held up by parents being late
- students missing buses (never local students, always those from as far away as possible)
- buses that cannot run to suit before school activities, and
- buses that cannot run to suit after school activities (which could cut down the local traffic problems substantially)
The list goes on
We know our bus timetables are designed and “moderated” by an office somewhere where they have more traffic lights, more traffic jams and more road rage than here in the Hastings.
We know that our frustration with the way timetables often do not reflect the growth of the school and the region, the changes in roads and the way school operate, frustrates many students and their families.
We know that some of our families do not choose to send their students on the bus because the timetables would mean they would miss their sport or performing arts practices, training or rehearsals.
We know that some parents, concerned about bus overcrowding and associated issues with safety, choose to bring their child to school.
We know that, as taxpayers, we pay the bus company when the children with bus passes do not use the services.
Thankfully, that is only one side of the school bus story!
The other side of the story is that we know that:
- the buses and their drivers are essential to the effective functioning of our school
- they provide us with opportunities to get our students to competitions, festivals, camps, and excursions
- they often have to leave home at 5 a.m. and return to school close to midnight
- they know that they have our students’ (and staff) safety in their hands and honour this responsibility
- the drivers know the stops for food and other needs on long trips to Newcastle, Sydney and Canberra
- the drivers know and are known by our students
I know of instances where bus drivers (I hope I don’t get them into trouble disclosing this) have changed their route to assist a young child who accidentally got on the wrong bus. I know drivers who regularly deliver parts of uniforms, musical instruments and sometimes smelly sports gear to our office so parents do not have to buy replacements. I see drivers who know their students’ birthdays, make sure they sit where it is safe, smile and wish our students a great day and have become a positive part of students’ school life.
All hail the caring bus driver!
Today, at St Columba, buses:
- Delivered several hundred students to our campus.
- Took a Legal Studies mock trial team to Kempsey.
- Took (using our brand new school bus) a girls’ football team to Coffs Harbour.
- Took an amazingly excited, almost bouncing off the walls, group of Stage 1 students to a theatre production at the Glasshouse.
- Delivered Secondary students to sport.
All before midday!!!!
Buses: Constantly complain and worry about them, but our School could not do what we do without them.
Mr Terry Muldoon
Principal, St Columba Anglican School