Parents raise school bus seatbelt fears

Tom ZaunmayrThe West Australian
Should TransKarratha buses have seatbelts?
Camera IconShould TransKarratha buses have seatbelts? Credit: WA News

Dampier parents have expressed concern over the lack of seatbelts and available seats on the school bus route into Karratha since the TransKarratha public service came into operation.

Previously, a free bus was provided with seatbelts for the school run, but since public transport was introduced this year that has no longer been the case.

Concerned parent Jasmin Ashcroft said many parents were worried about having their children standing up on the 100km/h Dampier Highway leg of the route.

“Grown adults are not allowed to drive around without seatbelts and yet we are expected to allow our kids travelling to Karratha to stand at 100km/h without seatbelts,” she said.

“Rio Tinto employees aren’t even allowed to get around without seatbelts on site and they are only travelling at 40km/h. We are paying for a service now that is inferior to what we used to get for free.”

Public Transport Authority spokesman David Hynes said it was common practice across the world for children to stand on buses.

“The new TransKarratha buses comply with all applicable Australian standards and have a maximum licensed load capacity of 82 passengers — 44 of whom can be seated. This is consistent with school bus specials operated around the State,” he said. “The interior layout of the bus is carefully planned to safely cater for the greatest number of passengers allowed.”

Mr Hynes said drivers had informed the PTA few children were left to stand on the Dampier Highway section of the trip — a statement Mrs Ashcroft believed to be untrue.

She conceded the parents were likely fighting a losing battle.

“It is the PTA who made the decision that this was acceptable, but I will always say it is unacceptable for kids to be standing at these speeds,” she said.

The service from Wickham to Karratha does have seatbelts and is not a standard PTA bus.

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