Northern Rivers Buslines and Ballina Buslines have fitted five more school buses with seatbelts thanks to Federal Government grants of almost $125,000 under its Seatbelts for Regional School Buses Programme.
Manager of Northern Rivers Buslines Dene Petty said the buses will operate on high-risk regional school bus routes in the Northern Rivers and Ballina regions.
“These routes include school services travelling on the Pacific Highway, Bangalow Road and Summerland Way which are not currently funded under State Government programs,” he said.
Federal Member of Page Kevin Hogan today inspected one of the retrofitted buses that is now in service.
“We all know seatbelts saves lives. Now our students can buckle up on their often long trips to school and get home to their families safely,” he said.
Ballina Buslines, which operates in Alstonville, Ballina, Wardell and Lennox Head received $49,800 to upgrade two of its buses, while Northern Rivers Buslines received $74,700 to upgrade three of its buses that operate in Casino, Kyogle, Lismore and Mullumbimby.
Recent statistics from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics show that more than 80 per cent of bus passenger fatalities occurred outside our major cities.
Today, around 25 people are killed in bus crashes each year, and a further 200 are hospitalised.
Mr Petty said the two buslines have purchased seatbelt-equipped school buses over the past two years and the Government’s Regional Busses programme allowed the companies to accelerate the retrofitting as part of its on-going commitment of providing safe transport for school students in the northern region of NSW.
“The retrofit of the five buses will be completed by mid-November with the first of the buses already back operating with the upgraded seats,” he said.
“The companies will purchase another two seatbelt equipped school buses prior to the commencement of 2015 school year resulting in ten school buses equipped with seatbelts in the fleets.”
The Australian Government’s programme allows bus operators on recognised rural and regional school routes to apply for up to $25,000 to have seatbelts installed in new buses or retrofitted in existing ones.