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Common drop-off points for school buses: Parents voice safety concerns, operators foresee resistance | #schoolsaftey

SINGAPORE – For parents, having common pickup and drop-off points for school buses is acceptable only if their children can get to and from these places safely.

Bus operators, meanwhile, expressed reservations about whether the measure – while welcome – could be implemented, as they expect parents to oppose it.

Both groups were reacting to the proposed measure – one of several announced by the Ministry of Education last Monday to address a manpower crunch in the industry.

Designating common points would cut journey time and potentially allow operators to use larger-capacity buses. This, in turn, would help operators cope with the driver shortage and enable more pupils to be served on each route.

The most commonly cited concern from parents is the risk of having to navigate across traffic junctions when getting to and from the designated locations.

Ms Punita Kupasamy, whose daughter is in Primary 1, said crossing road junctions to get there would be “a clear no-no” for her.

“Safety is the key consideration,” said the 38-year-old who works in the financial technology sector. 

Parents also said they expect the pickup points to be sheltered, given weather conditions.

Those whom The Straits Times spoke to had differing views on how far from home these common pickup and drop-off points can be.

One parent noted that older pupils in Primary 5 or 6 should be more independent and able to walk safely to and from the designated point, compared with those in Primary 1 or 2.

Some consider a five-minute walk from home to be reasonable. Ms Mindy Loo, 42, an engineer whose daughter is in Primary 3, feels that 100m from home is as far as it can go. Currently, the school bus drops her daughter off at the common area of the condominium they live in.

Mr David Tay, 50, who is self-employed and has a son in Primary 1, said a pickup point within 1km is acceptable.

He added that he understands the logistical challenge of picking pupils up directly from their homes, given the manpower crunch.

Other parents noted that they are paying for a school bus service because of convenience and the predictability of knowing when their children will get home.

Ms Cristina Charito, 34, is considering using a school bus for her daughter, who is in Primary 2.

The housewife and her husband have been taking time out to ferry their child to and from school by public bus and taxi after their carpooling arrangement ended in 2022.

She asked if having common pickup points would translate into lower school bus fares.

Housewife May Tan also hopes consolidated pickup points would lead to lower fares.

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