No private minibuses for school runs
Private minibuses will not be used to transport children to school next term, the Government has confirmed.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Transport and Regulatory Affairs said no extra transport would be hired to supplement the ageing and unreliable bus fleet.
The Department of Public Transportation told parents last week to consider alternative transport to get their children to school on time.
The spokeswoman identified seven steps being taken by the Ministry of Transportation, including priority for school bus routes when the school year starts, better co-ordination between dispatchers and bus drivers and “daily dedicated” buses for end-of-day service at CedarBridge Academy and The Berkeley Institute.
She added that technicians from MAN, the German manufacturer of most of the island’s bus fleet, were on-island working alongside DPT mechanics and that a liaison officer would be available to assist schools and the Ministry of Education.
The spokeswoman said: “The ministry will continue to provide daily updates on the status of buses via the government portal and social-media platforms.”
She added that two new buses, which had been set to arrive in the spring were now on island after delays caused by a “deficiency with the fuel tanks”.
The spokeswoman added: “This is being resolved with the supplier and the buses will be in service in the coming weeks.”
She said that eight additional buses promised next year were “due to arrive on schedule”.
The spokeswoman said the Government was committed to investing in buses.
She added: “In the interim, the DPT is working to implement a new schedule that will rely on fewer buses and facilitate a more reliable service.”
Cole Simons, shadow education minister, said he was surprised by the announcement.
Mr Simons said: “It’s a mess for parents and students, and it’s a sad way to start the new term. I thought that they would have had it resolved by now.”
He added that the state of the island’s transit system boiled down to “poor management, and poor management of resources”.
Walter Roban, the transport minister, announced at the start of the last school year that minibuses would be used on school runs.
Mr Roban said at the time that the cost of the minibuses could run as high as $630,000.
A ministry spokesman said last November that the bill for the service was $217,500.