Proposed 2015 School Bus Route

Dear Parents,

You are invited to attend the Bus Route Review meeting on Tuesday 2 December at 7pm in the Pukekohe East School hall. At the meeting the bus society Executive members will explain the proposed 2015 school bus route and answer any questions. The objective of the meeting is for parents to understand the changes to the route, bus stops and timetable to take effect for next year.

Below is the proposed bus route and timetable for 2015. Thank you to everyone who took the time to submit their feedback on the school bus route. The 2015 bus route has been determined by the bus society Executive taking into account your submissions, this year’s experience with the new, larger school bus, projected usage and financial considerations.

Map

The two dotted line segments on the map indicate possible extensions to the bus route to be decided at the Bus Route Review meeting. If you would like to use the bus stop at 189 Jericho Road or have a new stop on Valley Road (near Ridge Road) please attend the Bus Route Review meeting to show your commitment. We need to be confident of passenger numbers, both morning and afternoon, to include either of these possible extensions. The bus society Executive will review the inclusion of these extension segments if usage drops below the required level during the year.

Timetable

How was the proposed route determined?
Around half of the families who submitted feedback asked for the status quo to remain. The other half requested a variety of changes, ranging from moving a bus stop 20m, to adding and deleting sections of the bus route. All feedback forms were reviewed by the bus society Executive, and our drivers went out of their way to trial suggested route changes and work out how they might affect the timetable.

Safety:
Child safety was the foremost consideration. We operate a large bus and it needs sufficient room on the road shoulder to allow it to stop clear of traffic, and at least 20 metres distance to pull in and out. The stopped bus must be clearly visible to traffic in both directions. Uphill stops are undesirable as they cause clutch-wear, and they make acceleration difficult when rejoining traffic safely, especially on busy 100km main roads. Drivers’ opinions on safety considerations were giving particular emphasis.

Trip Duration:
The bus must be able to complete its route within 40 minutes. The lesson we’ve learned is that if the route is too long then families stop using the bus. A shorter route is more desirable.

Passenger Numbers:
Operating the bus is a numbers game. Our unique historic bus service needs subscription fees, parent volunteers and fundraising to survive. In evaluating sections of the route we look at the number of children that will use a bus stop, and the distance, cost and time to travel to each bus stop.

The bus is not owned by the school, nor is it contracted by or to the Ministry of Education. It receives no funding from the government and there is no connection to the school enrolment zone. It costs a lot to run a bus service, and our independent bus survives by running as a lean business to provide for the kids of Pukekohe East School in the most efficient way that we can, supported by annual subscriptions and fundraising. The school catchment area is changing each year, with more and more children coming from the town fringes as Pukekohe expands. The bus service must follow this trend to support the school and maintain passenger numbers. Two-thirds of bus subscription fees are paid by families using stops in the Grace James/Newsham Park/Belgium Road area.

Anti-Clockwise Route:
The bus route runs in an anti-clockwise direction so that it can have as many left turns as possible. Left turns are in general safer and easier and allow the bus to keep to timetable. This means that the bus turns left out of the school carpark and initially heads north up Runciman Road.

Our new large bus cannot easily turn right out of the school carpark, and indeed it’s impossible to make that right turn when there are vehicles parked on the opposite side of the road. Early on when the new larger bus had been starting its previous route with a right turn from the school it would often be delayed up to 10 mins waiting for cars to be moved from the grass verge opposite. A further advantage of turning left and employing an anti-clockwise bus route is that it avoids delays encountered at the intersection of Runciman Road and Pukekohe East Road, where there is often a queue of parents’ cars turning right.

Consistent Run Morning and Afternoon:
The bus route needs to be the same in the morning and afternoon. We have learned from experience that operating different morning and afternoon routes causes confusion to parents, grandparents and relief drivers.

What happens next?
Following the Bus Route Review meeting, the final map and timetable will be published on the school bus website to take effect the first day back at school in 2015. The bus route will remain in place for the 2015 school year, and it will be reviewed again in Term 4, planning for 2016.

Please get involved
The bus is kept going by parent volunteers who don’t get paid. If the bus is important to you please get involved. Bus society meetings are held once a term and all school families are welcome to come along and learn how the bus society operates and lend a hand with fundraising initiatives.

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