Legislative Council Thursday 21 June, 2018
Ms FORREST question to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Mrs HISCUTT
Regarding passenger transport services that transport children to and from schools, broken down by locality - for example, north-west coast, west coast, east coast, south-east and so on - and urban, for example, Launceston, Hobart and so on -
(1) How many schools utilise contract school bus services?
(2) How many schools utilise Metro Tasmania bus services?
(3) How many contracted bus services provide buses fitted with seatbelts?
(4) How many of the Metro buses providing transport for school children are fitted with seatbelts?
(5) Of those that do not provide buses with seatbelts, which schools do they service?
(6) Of the buses without seatbelts, what is the breakdown of the age of these buses?
(7) What incentives are in place or being considered to encourage contractors to upgrade their bus fleet to include buses fitted with seatbelts?
Mr President, I thank the member for Murchison for her questions; I think we have answers to nearly all of them. Before responding to the member's specific questions, I advise that as Jeremy Rockliff is now both the Minister for Education and Training and the Minister for Infrastructure, he has asked the secretaries of the departments of Education and State Growth to work collaboratively on current seatbelt and standing passenger standards as they apply to school transport.
In addition, they will consider how the Government can build on existing public education efforts to promote safe road behaviour around buses, noting that incident history and crash statistics clearly show that the risk of injury is greatest prior to boarding and after alighting from the school bus. Now to the member's specific questions -
(3) School bus operators are not currently required to have buses fitted with seatbelts, except in the case of small buses with an adult seating capacity of between 18 and 25. Therefore, the Department of State Growth does not collect this information.
(4) None. Metro Tasmania buses meet contractual, regulatory and legislative standards. Metro operates large and extra-large buses. These buses are rated for both seated and standing capacity. Buses are rated for standing capacity where they meet minimum dimensions and have appropriate handholds. A bus rated for standing capacity is exempted from the requirement to be fitted with seatbelts.
(5) Most school bus services servicing the majority of schools do not have seatbelts.
(6) Information about which buses do and do not have seatbelts is not collected. In regard to the breakdown in age, there are 492 buses in the general access and school bus fleet, including buses used by Metro and Merseylink in the Hobart, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie urban areas. The oldest vehicle in the fleet is 31 years. As at 5 June 2018, the average age of the fleet, excluding urban buses, is 14.9 years and the average of school buses is 16 years. The Government is actively working to reduce the age of the bus fleet across the state, and one example is our contract to build 100 new Metro buses that we announced in 2017. Some of that will be happening in the member for Murchison's electorate -
Ms Forrest - Not to pick up schoolkids. No.
Mrs HISCUTT - This is a start to get them there.
(7) Bus operators are not required to have buses fitted with seatbelts, except in the case of small buses with an adult seating capacity of between 18 and 25. The contracts for rural school buses require that all small buses introduced to a service must be equipped with seatbelts. This is not a regularity requirement, but arises from a contractual decision. I said earlier, Mr Rockliff is both the Minister for Education and Training and the Minister for Infrastructure, and he has asked the secretaries of the departments of Education and State Growth to work collaboratively on this.
The Liberal Government takes school bus travel seriously and continues to focus its efforts on increasing safety awareness as students embark and disembark buses. 'Back to School' is an ongoing public education program to promote safe road behaviour around buses and the school environment.
Through the contract payment system introduced in 2008 the Department of State Growth has taken positive steps to ensure the Tasmania's bus fleet is progressively updated. This has seen the replacement of many older, smaller buses with new models as well as the progressive introduction of modern, larger buses.Go Back