Walking bus proves popular

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The smiles and the laughter pretty well summed up the response of the Bledisloe School youngsters to their first "bus" trip through Taradale on Monday morning.

But there was no pulling the cord to stop the walking bus - instead, the dozen schoolbag-bearing passengers clutched the cord to stay aboard.

The Taradale primary school is the latest Hawke's Bay school to embrace the walking bus initiative, started by the New Zealand Transport Agency as a means of getting children to school safely, and teaching them the basics of road safety.

Bledisloe now joins a number of Bay schools where the walking bus treads a familiar path from nearby homes to the classroom.

Schools such as Clive and Meeanee started up their walking buses as far back as 2003.

The scheme has since been taken up by Sport Hawke's Bay because, on top of the safety factor, it encourages walking.

Sport Hawke's Bay's Primary School co-ordinator Chauntelle Brown worked with the school and said staff and parent volunteers had been fantastic to work with.

"It is a win-win situation because it achieves two goals."

As well as reducing traffic congestion as parents drop off and pick up their children, it was a fun and positive way to encourage young children and their parents to be more active.

Principal Tony Turfrey said: "It's a fantastic idea that meets many collective objectives.

"The scheme will help keep our children safe and learn important life skills. It will support a healthy lifestyle and involve many of our parents developing further a sense of community and support."

He especially wanted to thank the group of parent volunteers operating the walking bus.

On Monday it set out from Rata St and ran through Murphy Rd, picking up eager young "passengers" as it went.

By the time it reached the school there were close to 20 aboard.

Ms Brown said other schools wanting to take up the walking bus scheme could call her at Sport Hawke's Bay or check out the website www.nzta.govt.nz

- Hawkes Bay Today

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