• Fri
  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 9:35am
NewsHong Kong

School stands firm on new bus plan

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 July, 2013, 4:22am

Hong Kong International School is pressing ahead with plans to require pupils to travel to school by private bus, not cars, despite opposition from some parents.

The school says the requirement, to take effect from next month at its Repulse Bay campus, is necessary to ensure safety and ease the traffic congestion that has brought complaints from neighbouring residents.

Students living nearby will be allowed to walk to school, but all others will have to take the bus and pay for it.

Objecting parents say the measure is unnecessary and will add to the costs of sending their children to the school, where total annual fees range up to HK$210,900.

But the school's communications and public relations manager, Arlene Vermylen, said HKIS believes mandatory busing is the best option to ease the rush-hour gridlock around the school.

The school has proposed constructing a multimillion-dollar, "state-of-the-art" facility for its lower primary division on the site of the existing campus. It has faced stiff opposition from local residents, who worry that the new building could block views from their homes and contribute to traffic congestion in the area.

"As we worked to move the lower primary redevelopment project forward, it became clear that the heavy traffic at our Repulse Bay campus had been an ongoing issue for many years," Vermylen said. "The situation presents environmental and safety concerns as well as difficulty for our neighbours."

Some parents see it differently. "The road at the school is a public road that doesn't exclusively belong to the school. I don't see how it is legal to enforce how our kids commute once leaving the school's premises," one father said.

"We have a chauffeur that has been with us ever since our kids were born. Now we may have to terminate his employment due to this policy," said the father, who wished to remain anonymous due to what he described as "threatening tactics" by the school.

A statement on the HKIS website says if parents do not comply with the rule, their children's enrolment may be "jeopardised".

"Mandatory busing will force families to spend at least an additional HK$8,000 to HK$15,000 per child per family, when they previously were able economically to take public transport, walk or drive by private car," said another parent in an e-mail addressed to Southern District councillor Fergus Fung Se-goun, seen by the South China Morning Post.

"Traffic problems have been our main concern. We have seen a phenomenon where the roads become blocked and local residents can't even leave their buildings," Fung said.

According to a statement on the school website, the plan is part of the redevelopment of the campus now under way, as well as "ongoing efforts to be a good neighbour".

Jing Wu, mother of a student soon to enrol at the school, supported the idea. "For me, it's great. I've just arrived [in Hong Kong] and I don't have to waste time worrying about transportation," Wu said. "But, I understand the problems of other parents. If they are living in Central or Admiralty, it will mean their children have to get up earlier."



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This article is now closed to comments

There are so many reasons not to deliver the kids to school by car, the arguments against raised by the people who do it are so facile, it is a sad reflection on some parents in Hong Kong.
" it is too expensive and I would have to fire one driver!" - somebody failed Maths in school.
The selfish who raise their children to be the same will still argue that their kids need to be driven to school with a total disregard for everyone else in Hong Kong. The driver sits in the traffic, not them.
Schools should make sure they offer good, safe alternatives to get kids to school and ban dropping the kids off by private cars. They could offer a shuttle service from an area away from the school area, where the traffic would not be a nuisance in order to collect the kids from their drivers cars. Only pedestrians and school buses should be allowed near to schools.
For example the new Harrow school has several large public car parks which are never busy on school days in the daytime - these could easily be used as muster points, instead of the current mess.
I have kids in international schools and have cars and drivers, but they are not needed for this nonsense, my kids take the bus and enjoy socializing with their friend and clasmates on the way. The bus is also much safer then private cars.
And your kids will probably grow up much better adjusted for society than the coddled little twerps that are driven 24/7 to every single destination, never having to see reality or talk to average people.
Quite funny how one of the openly supportive parents is a recent mainland migrant. Take that, you pompous HKers whinging about your poor soon to be unemployed drivers (who surely sit at kerbs all day with the a/c running)!


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