Eastern coastal community parents and some school officials are becoming increasingly concerned over school bus safety in the area and have raised the matter with Prime Minister, John Key.
All fear a repeat of the recent serious bus accident near Whakatane where a logging truck struck the back of a school bus shunting it into a nearby field.
Three children were seriously injured in the accident which threw several others completely out of the vehicle.
Now, local coastal parents want action and say the law, which permits passengers to be carried in the aisle of the bus, should be changed and their views have received the backing of Howick College deputy principal, Matt Messias.
Mr Messias says if he’s driving and is caught with children not wearing safety belts then he can be fined. By the same token, he says, having children standing in the aisle of a bus should also be a traffic offence.
For years parents have been concerned about the issue and say that those forced to stand on busses travelling into Howick College are particularly vulnerable.
The subject was raised with Prime Minister John Key when he came to meet residents at the Te Puru Centre on Tuesday afternoon. The meeting was held at 4pm but still attracted well over 250 visitors.
It was the first time a Prime Minister had personally addressed residents in the area since the Muldoon government.
Key described the problem as a “nightmare issue” and said it needed looking into.
He said New Zealand public transport had always had a practice of allowing passengers to stand in the aisles but the problem essentially boiled down to a mater of cost.
Meanwhile Hunua MP, Dr Paul Hutchinson, has taken up the cudgels on the issue saying children must be seated on school buses and should also be required to wear safety belts.
Currently 13 buses serve Howick College and other nearby schools.