Further to our previous update and following ongoing advocacy for improvements to the School Transport Assistance Subsidy Scheme (STAS), we have received the following information from Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) in italics.
- Translink conducted a comprehensive review of the designated school bus network providing transport for eligible students under the School Transport Assistance Scheme (STAS) in the Traveston, Cooran and Cooroy areas in late 2021.
- This resulted in providing improved travel options and enabling access for eligible STAS students in the Traveston area to travel to the Pomona and Cooroy High Schools on a designated school bus service.
- This change has not impacted the school service for those students continuing to travel to Gympie State High School.
- These changes were implemented at the start of the 2022 school year and will assist meeting the school transport demands in the area into the future.
- Delivery partners providing these school services report positive feedback from the school community about the change.
Eligibility for Scheme
- TMR is committed to supporting education outcomes through transport solutions and strives to engage effectively with all stakeholders to deliver services that meet the needs of the broader community. For those students who do not have a state school in the local area, assistance is available under the School Transport Assistance Scheme.
- Approximately $180 million is provided annually to support the transport needs of eligible students, and consistent guidelines are required to ensure the scheme’s ongoing financial viability. The scheme assists about 130,000 students across the state, or about 20 per cent of Queensland’s students.
- Across the state, the government funds a network of school buses to transport students eligible under STAS to their nearest school. Generally, the designated bus service will have a defined school bus catchment area which is determined by the department.
- Eligibility under STAS is a two-step process:
- Firstly, a distance-based criteria is applied where a primary school student must live more than 3.2 kilometres by the shortest trafficable route from their nearest state primary school and secondary students must reside over 4.8km from their nearest state high school.
- Secondly, students must travel on the designated service for their area travelling to an educational facility for the year level required. Their eligibility cannot be transferred to other services or modes of transport. In assessing eligibility, the nearest designated bus service is measured by the shortest trafficable route between the residential property and the nearest point on the route of the designated bus service.
- In many instances, designated bus service areas do not align with Department of Education (DoE) boundaries. The boundaries set by DoE are not fixed or static, they are reviewed annually to ensure enrolment capacity aligns with existing infrastructure provisions. In some cases, changes to catchment boundaries will mean student’s enrolment eligibility does not align with STAS service eligibility, which is consistent across the State.
- Unfortunately, these circumstances are not within TMR’s control and may conflict with TMR’s contractual responsibilities to support STAS services to eligible students within prescribed geographic boundaries. As you can appreciate, managing a network of bus services that connect to other services prohibits TMR frequently amending bus services to match DoE enrolment management plans or catchment areas.
- Parents are always entitled to enrol their children in the school of their choice and in some cases, this may include a school without a designated service. When this occurs, it must be recognised that the transport associated with such a decision and the costs involved in travelling to the school falls outside the purpose of the scheme and are the responsibility of parents/guardians.
- Further information regarding the School Transport Assistance Scheme, including the policy can be found at https://www.qld.gov.au/transport/public/school/school-transport-assistance
- To confirm whether a student is eligible to receive STAS, the parent /guardian is encouraged to contact Maroochydore Regional Translink Office on 5452 1800 who will provide advice on eligibility and designated services.
- TMR is unable to confirm whether students from Cooran Primary School then attend Gympie High School as we do not hold school enrolment data. DoE may be able to assist on this issue.
Following over three years of advocacy to address issues under the School Transport Assistance Subsidy Scheme (STAS), $18.9 million has recently been committed towards reviewing and expanding the program for students living in shared care arrangements travelling from a second address. Students in shared care arrangements will be able to apply for STAS assistance from 2 addresses so they can continue to get to school. Plans are in progress to implement this initiative including systems and operational changes and we will provide a further update when this is available.