Bus yet to hit the road

Parents of students at Officer Secondary College are desperate for a bus route to be installed to the school. 204526_01

Officer Secondary College students are waiting for a bus that will seemingly never come.

In November, the Pakenham Gazette reported that parents and members of Officer Secondary College’s school council had been fighting for a bus to the school for three years.

Multiple applications have been denied and it seems their calls have fallen on deaf ears.

That hasn’t stopped frustrated parents however, who are continuing to lobby the State Government.

Georgia Davies-Jackson, whose son attends Officer Secondary after having been zoned out of Berwick College, has been writing to Education Minister James Merlino and Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne since August 2019 in the hopes of gaining some traction.

In correspondence seen by the Gazette, Mr Merlino told Ms Davies-Jackson that “connected public transport services” were already available for students travelling to and from the school, essentially rejecting their appeal for a dedicated bus.

In his letter, Mr Merlino referred to both bus and train services that students could use.

Officer Secondary College is located around 900 metres from Officer Train Station, and a Berwick College bus diverts from its usual route twice a day – once in the morning and once in the afternoon – to drop off Officer students at their school.

But Ms Davies-Jackson said the response – and the options – weren’t good enough.

“For anybody living in Timbertop, they have to go out of Officer to get to a train station to come in to Officer,” she said.

“We’ve highlighted to both the ministers and anyone who would listen that the 926 and 927 buses run on the highway, and if they could just divert them before and after school that would solve the problem.

“But for some reason, no one seems to want to take it up.

“I’m frustrated and disappointed that they built a secondary school with no consideration of how kids will get there.”

A petition for a bus that was started by Gembrook MP Brad Battin has so far attracted over 400 signatures and counting, according to a spokesperson from Mr Battin’s office.

She added that Mr Battin will raise the issue of the bus in State Parliament when it resumes.

Minister Merlino’s office and Cardinia Shire Council have been contacted for comment.