Harold Hill schoolchildren left unable to get to school and ‘vulnerable’ due to Covid-secure bus capacities
PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 September 2020
Transport for London (TfL) apologises as buses with reduced capacity to be Covid-secure have resulted in schoolchildren being left without any transport to get to and from school on time.
TfL currently has dedicated school bus services which have a capacity of 60 and which normal passengers cannot board.
The normal services have a capacity of 30, which TfL says without schoolchildren on board should leave more space for adults commuting.
For parents with younger children, this is causing problems for children that cannot be left unsupervised on their journey to school.
Claire Maguire, a parent who has to travel to Marshalls Park Academy everyday said: “One morning I was told by two different 165 drivers that I wasn’t allowed on. One because it was a school service and I was an adult and the non-service because I had a child with me who was eight!”
For schoolchildren who can travel alone, parents say that there aren’t enough dedicated school services for them to be able to board.
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Claire explained: “TfL haven’t put on enough buses and on some routes there haven’t been any. My Year 7 child regularly can’t get home from school. She finishes at three and often can’t get on a bus until five! And from October I’m expected to pay for this service.
“It gets darker earlier soon and it’s going to leave hundreds of children vulnerable.” Two other parents with children who both board the 174 towards Harold Hill agreed that there were not enough school services being provided, with their children being denied access to a non-school service in the mornings and afternoons, sometimes resulting in their children getting home well after 5pm.
Headteacher of Marshalls Park Academy, Neil Frost said: “We are aware of a small minority of students that have been late to school and/or had long journeys home due to difficulties being unable to get on to TfL buses.
“We continue to advise parents to consider alternative arrangements to TfL buses, but appreciate this can be very difficult for parents.”
TfL’s director of bus operations, Claire Mann said: “We’re sorry that this has happened and are working to ensure nobody is unable to board a bus for long periods and, if school services are delayed, children can use non-school services.
“We have made vital changes to bus services to ensure up to 250,000 children can get to school and other passengers can get to where they need to be as more people start to return to their workplaces.
“Having dedicated school buses allows us to carry more people within government social-distancing guidelines. We are monitoring the situation with the bus companies and from our control centre so that we can tweak the service if needed.”
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