What is going on with Grantham school buses?
We reported recently on a mum’s frustration at the amount of times her son’s school bus was late picking him up.
Since being published, other parents have been sharing their experiences with ‘unreliable’ school buses and the concerns they have for their child’s education and safety.
Our original report described how mum-of-two Kate Taylor claimed that the school bus service to Sir William Robertson Academy (SWRA), in Welbourn, rarely turned up on time, leaving her 12-year-old son either stranded or late for his lessons.
Sharon Rayner’s son also attends SWRA and uses the same bus service.
She got in touch with us earlier this month after receiving another message from the school to say that the bus was going to be late.
She said: “We had a message at 7.30am to say that the bus was running 30 minutes late and to ask the kids to wait at the stop.
“It was raining really heavily at the time. I then received a second message to say that the bus was running 70 minutes late and whilst they ask children to wait they understand if they don’t.
“We all have to pay for this service and many rely on the service to get them to school because of work.
“This is just another example in many and yet no apology has been made by the bus company to parents or a refund issued for the days that kids have had to go home as it is just to cold to wait.
“All my children have gone to the school but I used to take them. With rising petrol costs, it made more sense to send my son on the bus this year but I am regretting this now.”
Clare Wyles’ son is in Year 7 and also uses the Stagecoach service to attend SWRA.
He is picked up on Dysart Road, Grantham, but the bus again regularly shows up late.
Clare said: “The main concern is what happens if this occurs when they have exams or school trips booked and have to be at school for a certain time.
“Also it doesn’t look good for my child’s attendance record if he gets to school after registration has already been submitted.”
In our original article last month, a spokesman from Stagecoach, which operates the service, said: “The difficult road conditions last week did result in a service being significantly late at Sir William Robertson Academy, certainly on one day, this delay was unfortunately unavoidable and beyond the control of the company. The academy was informed of the delay as soon as reasonably possible, which is our usual practice. We have an excellent working relationship with SWRA and look forward to maintaining this in the future.
“We will try to maintain the high level of customer service that is general practice within Stagecoach.”
It is not just pupils at SWRA that are struggling with the bus services.
Many parents whose children attend The Priory Belvoir Academy in Bottesford have also been sharing similar experiences.
Jo Bateson has been forced to make alternative arrangements to get her son to school after she claims Centrebus have failed to pick him up seven times since September, and was often running late.
Her son was supposed to get picked up in Barrowby by Centrebus at 7.30am but was often still waiting after 8am.
She said: “The bus failed to show seven times since September.
“When I complained the last time, they replied that the bus was running 45 minutes late so it did still arrive but this is no good to me.
“How do I know that I have to make other arrangements to get my son to school? There’s never any updates on their Facebook page for Grantham buses.
“My son has been left lots of times on the street in the dark on his own. “
Her son now gets a lift to school with friends.
Jo added: “He now only gets the bus home as I have two other children to get to school and can’t rely on Centrebus.”
Linda Wright posted on the Journal’s Facebook page: “The number 6 Centrebus from Grantham to Bottesford is not reliable. It is often late in the mornings and after school. My son catches it at 7.40am from Barrowby but often phones me saying it’s late or hasn’t turned up. It’s not a cheap service either. We pay about £227 per term for it. “
Kev Bredon’s son also attends the academy.
He said: “Centrebus are so unreliable. They didn’t turn up again this morning. We pay a fortune for this service to get my son out to Bottesford every day.”
Anthony Fletcher’s son also uses the same service to Bottesford.
He said: “My son is in Year 7 and has to go to Barrowby to catch it as it only stops once in Grantham. It is often late but it’s when it just doesn’t turn up that is the problem, which has happened about six or seven times since September, including his very first day of term in September.
“We are told that it’s due to roadworks, driver error or that the bus has broken down.
“I did receive an explanation and apology from Centrebus the last time I complained that they didn’t show up but it’s not good enough. It leaves my 11-year-old son stranded in Barrowby. Many of the us parents just don’t know what to do going forward.
“We are stuck.”
Alison Hunt claims that she has been dealing with poor service from Centrebus for many years.
She said: “ My 20-year-old daughter attended KGGS and my 15-year-old son is at King’s. It’s free up to the age of 16 but I have to pay for sixth form.
“The education authority pays for children to travel on the number 28 service bus from Skillington and Colsterworth.
“This service is worse than appalling. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I and other parents have complained to both the education authority and Centrebus. The bus is regularly overcrowded and exceeds the maximum number permitted even with many standing.
“The most recent complaint received an assurance from Centrebus that double decker buses should always be used on this route to accommodate the numbers.
“However, not surprisingly after one week we are back to a single decker.
“Our children are being transported to school along the A1 in old and overcrowded buses and neither Centrebus or the education authority are living up to their duty of care and that’s not including the poor punctuality, regular break downs or just not turning up at all.”
After being contacted by the Journal, operations director at Centrebus Dave Brookes said: “There are number of school children that catch the number 6 service so we monitor the route closely, as we do for all of our services that serve local schools..
“Our tracking data shows that the bus normally drops the students at the school on time. However, the service has been severely delayed on two occasions since Christmas due to reasons beyond our control.
“On the 28 service there have been occasions where we have had to use a single deck vehicle when a double deck vehicle hasn’t been available. However, at no point has the service operated beyond its maximum passenger capacity and we are making every effort to ensure a double deck vehicle is allocated to the route going forwards.
“We welcome passenger feedback and use this information to help us monitor our services and improve timetables where required.
“Following the comments made about these services we will be putting additional focus on them going forward.”
As the local authority responsible for education and transport, Lincolnshire County Council was approached for comment but did not provide one by the time of going to press.