School children in parts of the Hunter region of NSW are now benefitting from safer journeys following completion of a $10 million program to provide 92 additional seat belted school buses.

This achievement was made possible after the Rural and Regional Seatbelt Program was extended to include school buses in selected outer metropolitan areas.

This means that as well as the 2,583 dedicated school buses in rural and regional NSW that have received seatbelts in recent years, an additional 92 buses in Cessnock, Singleton, Maitland and Port Stephens now have seatbelts as well.

A total of 92 school buses in the Hunter have been retrofitted with seatbelts, while 10 are brand new seatbelted vehicles.

Transport for NSW tells us they carried out careful analysis to determine which Hunter school buses received seatbelts, determining they be installed on vehicles which regularly travel on roads with a higher crash risk rating with speed limits of 80 km/h or more.

The buses operate on dedicated school routes serviced by Transport’s contracted operators Rover Motors, CDC NSW and Port Stephens Coaches.

The program was the result of a close partnership between Transport for NSW, the bus operators and seat belt retrofitters, Sydney-based Baxter Omnibus Sales & Service and Royans Brisbane.

On the buses that were retrofitted, a total of 6,671 seatbelts were installed on 4,624 seats, including one, two and three-person seats.

Disruption to normal school services was minimised during the 15-month retrofit program with replacement buses being used throughout.