Parents in a Cornish town have aired their concerns about an overloaded school bus which is taking their children to a secondary school several miles away.
A Cornwall councillor said he has written to the relevant officer and cabinet member raising the issue, stating the council needs to ensure that the bus service is “fit for purpose”.
There have been over 50 comments, many from worried parents, on a Facebook page dedicated to Lostwithiel after a parent posted their “shock” at discovering the council had issued “more bus passes to students than there are seats on the buses”, leading to some students travelling to Fowey River Academy having to stand in the aisle. Cornwall Council says it has taken “swift action” after concerns were raised.
The parent wrote: “Pupils are having to stand in the aisle or attempt to share seats – the last ones on don’t get a seat.
“It’s not just a one-off, apparently most of the bus runs to Fowey are oversubscribed in this way. This year the bus from Lostwithiel is overloaded every single day, morning and afternoon.
“I’m flabbergasted that Cornwall Council would risk the safety of our children like this. It’s completely unnecessary and inexcusable.
“They’ve known for at least eight months exactly how many students they’ve enrolled at each school, and what transport provisions that would be required.
“But between them and the bus company they contract they are failing to provide a safe service.”
Other parents stated “Our son has just started in Year 7 and cannot believe the buses are too packed to fit everyone on”, “It’s so dangerous how they think this is safe”, “My daughter had to wait an hour for the bus to turn up last week” and “There are some people who have had the school bus that picks up their children cancelled completely the day before term started so lucky there is a bus at all. The council need to sort it out.”
Cllr Colin Martin, leader of the council’s Liberal Democrats group and ward member for Lostwithiel, said: “If one bus has empty seats, whilst another is overcrowded, it shouldn’t be a difficult problem to fix.
“I have written to the relevant officer and cabinet member to ask them to sort it ASAP.
“No doubt their reply will say that they expect it will sort itself out after a week or two because some people will stop using the bus.
“But if the council is serious about encouraging people to use buses instead of cars, then they need to ensure that the bus service is fit for purpose.
“Hoping that some students give up on the bus and ask their parents for lifts is not a solution!”
A council spokesperson said there are sometimes “unavoidable issues” at the start of a new term, but they had acted on the issue.
They said: “The council has taken swift action following concerns raised about insufficient capacity on one of its bus routes serving Fowey River Academy.
“While school bus and taxi networks are carefully planned, there can occasionally be unavoidable issues, particularly at the start of term.
“The council plans routes taking into account the projected number of students requiring travel.
“But sometimes the actual number is higher than expected, for example where students have moved address during the summer holidays or where applications for seats on the buses have not been made or have been made late. In these situations the council always acts swiftly to resolve the issue, as is the case here.
“The safety of passengers is always paramount and transport providers are instructed never to allow vehicles to become overloaded under any circumstances.”
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