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Published: 2010-07-14 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is enthusiastically backing a proposal to get youth input into ways of encouraging good behavior by school children on buses.

Bus use has boomed in Hamilton over the past five years with annual patronage approaching the five million passenger trips mark, and many of the users are school children.

However, there have been a range of problems on some buses involving a small but distinctive group of 50-100 young people from various schools. These problems include graffiti, spitting, intimidation and fare evasion.

Practical measures already taken to prevent such problems include installing closed circuit TV cameras and putting security guards on some routes. Persistent troublemakers can also be barred from using buses.

However, a new proposal that has emerged is getting the ideas of young people to encourage good behavior through the creation of a special youth council.

The suggestion was raised at a recent discussion group hosted by Environment Waikato, which included representatives from Hamilton city schools, school boards, the police and the Hamilton City Safe group.

"Rather than just focus on bad behaviour, the group discussed a range of options to encourage a stronger culture of good behaviour," said EW’s land transport operations manager Bevan Dale.

"The proposal to create a youth council representing Hamilton’s secondary and intermediate schools could be one way of developing positive solutions from the student perspective."

Mr Dale said EW would be developing the idea further with various stakeholders to see how such a council could best be run.

"This would be an opportunity for our youth to play a leadership role in improving the environment of the passenger transport network, making it pleasant travel experience for everyone all of the time," said Mr Dale.