Parent of a Banburyshire pupil complains bitterly about standard of school buses - children are 'crammed in' and some coaches do not show up
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Sarah Brennan of King’s Sutton said the Heyfordian buses contracted to take children to the Warriner School in Bloxham are not fit for purpose.
Problems have beset the company’s transport system since last autumn, she said, starting with some buses not having three-point seat belts. One had a cracked window and another was letting rain in through a leaking light fitting.
Others, she said broke down before reaching Adderbury, leaving children stranded.
"Sometimes a bus that had done a route had to return to collect our children,” she said. "When these old buses are out of action they get another coach to do several routes. One girl was dropped off at a completely different bus stop.”
The Banbury Guardian has asked Heyfordian for a comment but half term has meant company directors are on leave.
Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) said: “It wouldn’t be appropriate to respond to the Banbury Guardian before first contacting Sarah Brennan.”
Mrs Brennan said the two buses usually used on the Adderbury to Bloxham route are older double-deckers. “Children are often crammed in; they have to sit on the floor or three to a seat,” she said.
"My son took a photo during the winter of a cracked window on one of the buses and water on the floor from the leaking roof. I know I'm not the only parent to be fed-up with the situation.
"Another mum told me her daughter had been refused access to the bus to come home last week because it was full – in spite of having a valid pass. She had to get onto another bus and was driven around until she was the last child on the bus, then dropped off in the village some way from her usual stop. Her mum was fuming and I think the school is just as frustrated.”
Mrs Brennan one of the OCC transport team leaders suggested there is a problem with driver staffing because delivery companies may pay more.
"I believe they are offering an uplift of three per cent for fuel increases but that doesn’t solve the problem of old, worn-out buses,” she said. “At least three times last winter the coach didn't turn up because it had broken down - then they sent a replacement that wasn't large enough to take all the children.
An unnamed mother said: “On May 20 the bus did not arrive. We received no communication until mid-morning. Some students had their Maths GCSE that morning and had no idea if a replacement bus was on its way or not.
"I took six year 11 students to school that morning. I don't think this is fair to students particularly during exam season. As there is now an ongoing shortage of buses The Warriner have had to run their own minibus to collect students that have GCSEs when Heyfordian can't service their routes.
“I gather Heyfordian provides a seamless service to Oxford for private schools with an app so parents can check where the buses are and tell if there are delays. Obviously, parents are paying for this service but OCC is investing council tax payers money in this contract and must manage the contract to get a better service.”