Bus seatbelts not in plan

THERE was bitter disappointment among Mid North Coast parents this week as they realised their efforts to get seatbelts on school buses had resulted in no mention on the Premier’s recently-released 100-day action plan.

Valla Beach parent Diana McCarthy said the action plan did not include the specific commitment made by Mr O’Farrell to “immediately establish a community advisory committee to work with the NSW government . . . improve safety for school children travelling on buses on high-risk routes such as the Pacific Highway”.

“While the Coalition did not dedicate funding or specify time frames for the abolition of standing on school buses or the need to install seatbelts on high risk country bus routes, they did commit to this advisory committee,” Ms McCarthy said.

“Now we find even that watered-down commitment isn’t on the action list.”

A spokeswoman for Mr O’Farrell said the action plan only reflected specific promises mentioned in the future Premier’s contract with the people of NSW.

“This commitment was not included in that contract and so does not appear in the action plan,” she said.

However the Valla parents are concerned they have been forgotten now the Coalition has won the election.

“We were very surprised to see the action plan includes a pledge to toughen laws relating to ‘graffiti vandals’ yet doesn’t mention the school bus safety of rural children,” said another parent, Simon Portu.

“Children as young as five years old are still standing on school buses every day.

“The NSW Government can fix this by varying their contracts with bus companies and paying them the extra dollars required to run the extra buses.”

The campaign for mandatory seatbelts on school buses received high levels of support from Coffs Coast residents before the election.

In an online pre-election survey run by the Advocate, 93% of the 700 respondents supported mandatory seatbelts on school buses.

In March the NRMA also put out a policy calling for reform, saying the need for seatbelts was greatest on school buses using high speed roads such as the Pacific Highway.

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