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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 September 2006, 09:58 GMT 10:58 UK
School bus safety to be improved
Bus seat belt
The issue of seat belts on school buses is to be addressed
Children's Minister Marie Eagle has announced measures to improve safety on school buses in Northern Ireland.

The minister said funding has been made available for more than 100 new buses which will have seat belts fitted.

Ms Eagle said she hoped the investment would help phase out the problem of pupils standing on school buses.

NI Children's Commissioner Barney McNeaney said while he welcomed the move, the same standards should apply on all bus services.

"We feel that there are other things we would like to see happen," he said.

"We will be pressing the minister to continue to look at the issues we have identified, not least the complex issue that there is between children using scheduled services to get to school as well as the education and library board buses."

Barney McNeaney
Mr McNeaney said the same standards should apply to all bus services

Ms Eagle said the government would provide Translink with money to buy 110 single deck buses which would be commissioned especially for school use.

"These new buses will have seat belts and that will enable us to put an end to the routine practice of children having to stand on the way to school."

Keith Moffatt from Translink welcomed the news and said safety was a priority.

"The aim is to try and fit seat belts to dedicated school buses over the course of the coming years linked with our replacement bus programme," he said.

"So as we purchase new buses in the future for our Ulsterbus fleet, we will be equipping those with seat belts."

Eleanor Gill, chief executive of the General Consumer Council NI said that the council had been campaigning for a long time for better and safer transport for the 100,000 children who are travelling to school each day.


"We would like to see the abolition of the three-for-two rule, which allows for three children to sit in a space for two people," she said.

"We would also like to see the abolition of standing on buses which we feel adds to lack of safety, overcrowding and which can lead to poor behaviour and bullying.

"Above all, we want to see the phased introduction of seat belts on buses to ensure that our children are not an accident waiting to happen."

In June, a University of Ulster report into school transport in Northern Ireland found pupils did not feel safe.

It also said children were worried about the lack of seat belts on buses and recommended stopping three children sitting on a seat designed for two people.

The report, "Safer Journeys to School" was jointly funded by the Northern Ireland Children's Commissioner, the Department of Regional Development and the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland.

Reaction to how the schoolbus money is being spent

Review of school transport urged
08 Jun 06 |  Northern Ireland
Pupil dies in school bus crash
04 Apr 06 |  Europe

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