Kids left on highway

Lisa, Ben and Jessie Foster wait for the bus. Picture: David Baylis
Lisa, Ben and Jessie Foster wait for the bus. Picture: David Baylis

GREENMOUNT father-of-three Michael Foster has accused Transperth of putting driver convenience before children’s safety after the transport authority re-routed buses to no longer travel down Old York Road.

Mr Foster’s children Lisa (8), Ben (10) and Jessie (6) previously got off on Great Eastern Highway, crossed Old York Road and walked home in less than five minutes.

“My kids only started catching the bus to school this year,” Mr Foster said.

“Under these changes they will be deposited on the far side of the highway and expected to cross four lanes of heavy traffic.”

He previously drove his children to and from Glen Forrest Primary School, but needs more time to help his wife run their restaurant.

“I’d informed the school about the change and the kids went back to my parents, who live next door,” he said.

Mr Foster said he travelled the same bus route when he attended Mundaring Primary School 30 years ago.

“I’m appalled Swan Transit offered the solution that passengers catch the bus all the way to Midland, then take another bus back up the hill, adding an extra hour-and-a-half to their journey just to cross the road,” he said.

“If it is now dangerous for buses to cross the highway, shouldn’t it also be dangerous for other such long and slow vehicles, not just Transperth?” he said.

“While I appreciate the difficulty of long vehicles crossing the busy road, I can’t see how it’s not just part of the service of running buses, and no bus company should be dropping kids off on the side of a road that is hazardous for adults to cross.”

Transperth spokesman David Hynes said alterations were made to 320, 321 and 328 routes because it was not safe for buses to continue turning right on to Great Eastern Highway from Old York Road. He said while Transperth regretted the impact the change would have on residents, the decision was not taken lightly.

“Independent road safety advice confirmed buses needed to be removed to ensure passenger and staff safety,” he said.

Among the safety issues were the driver’s line of sight, particularly in peak hours, and visibility constraints caused by the angle of the sun at certain times of the day.

Other considerations included the increased traffic, limitations of the road layout and the large number of truck movements.

“In order to cater for the bulk of passengers affected, primarily school students travelling to local schools, we will run a route 323 service commencing from Old York Road, Greenmount travelling via Swan View Rd to Midland Station,” he said.

The 323 will travel from Old York Rd after Bona Vista Rd (Stop 14963) via Old York Rd, right Swan View Rd, left Morrison Rd, right Talbot Rd to travel the normal route to Midland Station.

Mr Hynes said the service would start at 6.50am on school days only, timed for student travel to Midland and Foothill area schools.

“After this time, Old York Rd passengers must make their own way to existing stops on Great Eastern Highway east and west of the Old York Rd intersections,” he said.

Stop numbers 14967 and 14968 will be removed.

The transport authority commissioned a safety auditor to inspect the intersection after drivers voiced their concerns.

Mr Hynes said consideration was given to installing a bus stop on the highway closer to Old York Road.

“But because of the number of truck movements, truck arrester bays and issues with line of sight, there was no suitable location,” he said.

He said patronage on the Old York Road section of the changed routes was low.

“We are not prepared to risk the safety of our passengers, or inconvenience a large number of existing passengers on other routes under these circumstances.”