Education Minister, Chris Hipkins, has announced $26 million in funding to bring rural school bus drivers wages in line with comparable public transport service drivers.
“For many students and families, assistance with transport to school is vital, and school bus drivers are essential to getting children to and from school safely,” Mr Hipkins said.
Around 100,000 students receive school transport assistance from the Ministry of Education, particularly in rural parts of the country.
“We’re announcing this extra funding following the Government’s October 2022 funding increase to the driver wages of council-run school bus services,” the Minister said.
“The Ministry has waited until the October funding has begun to reach public transport drivers to ensure that any funding increase for school transport is aligned.
“While driver availability tends not to be such an issue for rural school buses, we want to ensure that remains the case by offering comparable rates in line with any major movements.”
He said the additional $26 million funding over four years would ensure there is consistency for all school bus drivers across New Zealand, and that driver wages for Ministry-funded services do not fall out of step with wage rates for comparable public transport services.
“Ministry officials and schools will work with their transport operators to pass on this additional funding to drivers from the start of the 2023 school year.”
“Operators will be required to opt in to receive this funding and must agree to pass on this, and any subsequent funding increases, to their drivers.”
The Ministry offers school transport assistance to students where distance or a lack of suitable public transport present a barrier to education. Ministry-funded school bus services operate almost exclusively in rural areas and are distinct from public transport services delivered by Public Transport Authorities, for example regional councils and Auckland Transport.