Amend the current minimum 1.6km straight line distance or 2.3 walking for Primary Students

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All Primary School Children should receive travel to school on Public Transport for FREE!

Sign our petition to change the current 1.6km straight line distance 2.3km walking or further for Primary School Students in years 3-6.

Judging a child's residential address to their current school in a straight line distance is a ridiculous way to approve or deny a child a school Opal Card. Children can not fly to school in a straight line. Currently parents of children in school years 3-6 apply for a renewal of their school Opal Card online. There are no details entered into this online form, other than the child's details, school attending and current residential address. Thus, due to the ridiculous 1.6km straight line distance rule most children are being automatically denied a School Opal Card and told to either purchase one at $52 per school term or appeal in writhing to the Transport Concessions Committee.

 

To appeal this decision, parents have to put in writing the actual route a child would have to walk using safe pedestrian crossing or lights. Parents also have to submit supporting documentation which often includes photographs, maps, medical evidence etc. Walking safely to school can be achieved in city areas but in more suburban and rural areas there are limited footpaths, pedestrian crossings and lights for children to be able to walk to school safely. This is in direct contravention of the NSW Department of Transport Guidelines for Determining the Safety of a Walking Route to School. Transport for NSW current rules are forcing young children to walk in unsafe conditions on busy roads over 2.3km or further which, takes 30 minutes or more according to google maps. Transport for NSW current rules are also forcing more parents to drive their children to school, thus increasing vehicular traffic around already busy school zone areas at school start and finish times. How many children have to be injured or die as a result of your current rules denying children free Opal Card travel on public transport. Transport for NSW answer for parents is they purchase a Student Opal Card for $52 per term a cost of $208 annually. This cost is unaffordable for people with one child let alone multiple.  Working parents are also disadvantaged as they often use grandparents to assist getting children to the bus stop and not all grandparents have the physical capacity to walk children all the way to school.

 

My children twins aged 7 have been denied a Student Opal Card by the NSW School Student Transport Scheme stating, that my “Pedestrian Access Concern” is not justified. Further to this I am again informed that “my residence does not meet the radial and walking distance criteria for the school attended."  Transport for NSW also considers that, "provided normal pedestrian precautions are observed, the walking route is suitable.”  My children, if walking in the most direct route from our residence to Bateau Bay Primary School would have to cross The Central Coast Highway at Bateau Bay at the round about with Cresthaven Avenue. There are no lights or pedestrian control at this intersection which is incredibly busy. This is a Highway with double white lines and a metal guard rail on the eastern side of the round about preventing any pedestrian access across it.  The obvious option is to walk to the traffic control light signals at the intersection of The Central Coast Highway and Bateau Bay Road. These lights have the operating pedestrian crossing signals. Walking to school though, via this safe route is 2.6km and thus my children have been denied a bus pass to save the government money. Pedestrian safety does not even appear to be looked at by Transport for NSW.  Although I submitted a two page letter with images and maps of the roads my children would have to walk on their route to school, I was answered with an email denying my application but no description of what the "suitable walking route" they suggest is.   

My children and I are not the only ones facing this ridiculous rule by Transport for NSW.  A great number of children at Bateau Bay Primary particularly those living on the western side of the Central Coast Highway have been denied opal cards for their children.  I also suggest that this predicament relates to a great number of schools in NSW that are in or around busy roads, Highways and freeways. 

It seems unfathomable that Primary Students have the current rule of 1.6km straight line distance or 2.3km walking or further, yet Secondary Students have the rule of 2km straight line distance or 2.9km walking or further. Secondary students are aged from 11-18 and have better road safety awareness and physical ability to walk further distances. Why are our Primary School Students in years 3-6 held to a distance less than Secondary Students who are older, bigger and more aware.  Our primary school children in school years 3-6 vary in age from 7-12 years. Forcing children to walk 30 minutes or more twice a day in all weather conditions can not always be safe. Our temperatures are continually rising and for a number of school months our temperatures at the finish of school can be in the high 40's in parts of NSW.

I believe Transport for NSW current rules and online renewal methods to be cost cutting to enable a reduced budget for Transport Concessions. Forcing parents to appeal a computer decision that is not based on any situational factors is frustrating and for many impossible. The current 1.6km straight line distance or 2.3 walking or further is ridiculous and takes no road related situations into consideration.  Change the current rules and online website renewal process now before more Primary School aged children are injured or die just trying to get an education!

Please sign our petition so we can keep our Primary School kids safe.