Bus run fight puts pressure on family
ONE Warwick mum says she is at breaking point over something that for most parents is routine - the morning school run.
The unlicensed mother of six school-aged children resides 15km from town, in an area that does not have access to a school bus services.
Miss Lee said her options for getting her children to school at this point were to have her older children in town alone at 5.30am, waiting for school to open, or to pay hundreds of dollars a week for a minibus.
The Wildash woman said she has never held a licence due to medical reasons and relies on anyone who can help her and her family.
"I want my kids to go to school,” she said.
"I want them to learn and have a shot at a future.
"If they don't go to school, I can get in trouble, face fines and lose benefits, and I don't want that.”
Her three high-school aged children get a lift to town with their father and Debra's partner, Wayne, four days a week.
"He starts at 6am so the kids get dropped off near the saleyards just before 6am and walk into town from there,” Miss Lee said.
"Then they have to wait around until school opens.
"I hate that they have to do that, it's not safe.”
The three younger children attend Glennie Heights and Miss Lee said at the moment a cousin drives out from Warwick every morning and afternoon to take them to school.
"He wants $50 for that, and we can't rely on him forever either,” she said.
"I don't have any other options.”
Miss Lee said she had called every bus company in town for help. "I've even looked into taxis,” she said.
"It'll cost me $54 a day to send them to school in a taxi and I can't afford that. "Haidley's offered a minibus, but at our cost of $250 a week.”
Miss Lee said the situation had taken a toll. "I'm badly depressed,” she said. "I'm at the end of my tether and I really don't know what to do.
"We moved out here to get out of town....I don't want to live here any more.”
Miss Lee said although the location was not ideal, she had to move to the Darryl Evans managed property because no one else would give her a chance.
The Lee family lives near Old Stanthorpe Rd, south of Warwick, which once had access to a bus run.
Haidley's Panoramic Coaches and Motors manager Cameron Haidley said the service in question had been cut back.
"We used to run from Warwick to Cherrabah and back, twice a day,” he said.
"The service began in the early 1990s but as the kids dropped off over the years, the service kept coming back closer to Warwick. Now the run only goes to the Warwick Industrial Estate.”
Mr Haidley said there weren't enough children on the run to warrant a bus.
"We would certainly look at it again if there were 10-12 children needing transport to school,” he said.
"Without the numbers, it's simply not viable - it would cost us far more than we'd be paid.”
Miss Lee contacted Member for Southern Downs Lawrence Springborg in desperation.
Mr Springborg said he had contacted the then Minister for Transport and Commonwealth Games Stirling Hinchliffe on her behalf last month.
"He was planning an overall review of the way bus runs were regulated as some of the rules governing them are quite antiquated,” Mr Springborg said. "There's been a change of minister in the last two weeks, but I do hope they look at the case and I hope there's a positive outcome for Miss Lee and her family.”
The Department of Education and Training and Translink were both unable to provide comment before the story went to print.