The parents of dozens of Auckland school children are facing a battle to get their children to school after being told the bus service they have used for years is no longer able to cater for them.

Whitford couple Mark and Lisa Darrow were among 70 families who received a letter this month saying the bus that transports their 6-year-old daughter Brooke to and from school would stop in a week's time because of overcrowding.

After that, the service which collects students from Whitford, Maraetai and Beachlands, would only be available to take children attending their nearest school - despite the fact it had been carrying paying out-of-zone students for several years.

The affected students attend Cockle Bay School, Somerville Intermediate and Botany Downs Secondary College. In some cases they are out-of-zone for the schools and in others are outside the transport entitlement zone funded by the Ministry of Education - which only pays for a ride to their nearest school, even if the child is in zone for several.


Mr Darrow said the decision, and fact there was only a week's notice given, has now left many parents struggling to work out how they will get their children to school - especially given many live down rural roads that don't have footpaths and aren't safe to walk or cycle along.

"It's absolutely ridiculous - all of a sudden there's 26 [Cockle Bay] parents going 'what do I do?"'

Mr Darrow said the bus company tightened its rules a few years ago and out-of-zone students - who used to travel for free - had to start paying.

He had no problem with the $500-a-year fee and couldn't see why the company couldn't just provide another bus given there was such big demand for the service.

Howick & Eastern Buses spokeswoman Sheryl Otway said the problem stemmed from the fact so many ineligible students were using the services that some of the buses were now nearing capacity and there was a risk eligible students would miss out.

She said it wasn't necessarily as simple as providing one more bus as there were several different locations involved but the company was prepared to look at the different options.

The Ministry of Education's resourcing operations manager Bernadette Doolan said funding was allocated for transporting students to their nearest school.

In some cases some of the ineligible students using the buses were travelling past one or even two closer schools to go to their school - and the ministry just didn't have the budget to fund everyone.


The parties have now agreed to extend the service for a month until a resolution can hopefully be found.

* The Ministry of Education pays for children to catch a bus to their nearest school.
* Out-of-zone students have been paying for the bus but there's no room any more.
* Parents were given one week's notice to find a new way of transporting their kids.
* Parents and the bus company now have a month to come up with a solution following a meeting with the ministry.