Parents' anger at Stagecoach's decision to scrap vital Cirencester school bus service between Kingshill and Deer Park
PARENTS across Cirencester have been up in arms after one of the town’s most popular bus operators dropped a bombshell by withdrawing a vital school service.
Schoolchildren living in Stratton are now facing uncertainty over their journey to school after Stagecoach announced it was axing the 53 bus that connects Stratton with both Kingshill and Deer Park School.
Stagecoach informed parents of its decision to stop the service on the day that the schools broke up for the autumn half term.
In a letter addressed to Deer Park School, Stagecoach explained that, despite trying to increase the frequency of passengers on the number 53, it has been left with no choice but to terminate the route.
Stagecoach said: “Despite injecting two extra buses and four drivers into the route, the results after 18 months indicate that less than half the costs of the improvement have been covered and it is with considerable reluctance that we are having to reduce these services.”
However, many parents have disputed these claims insisting that the bus is used heavily.
Adrian Williams, whose daughter attends Deer Park, said: “It’s always full. I don’t see how they can say that they’re not making any money. This whole situation just seems ludicrous.”
Brian Woodcock, who has a son at Deer Park, also refuted Stagecoach’s reasoning, saying: “The number 53 must be the only bus that’s actually making money, it’s always full.”
A spokesman for Stagecoach said: “As a result of the changes, we found ourselves with only one vehicle to operate in Cirencester at the peak times. With a previous requirement to serve two schools, at virtually the same time, we could not achieve this.”
The issue has also made its way to Westminster with Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown vowing to investigate.
He said: “An operator cannot be expected to put on bus services at a loss. However, not to provide a service for the two main schools in Cirencester seems strange. I will be contacting to Stagecoach to find out what has happened.”
Many parents have also contacted the Standard to say they are worried for their children’s safety in light of the scrapped bus route.
Beatrice Hatton, whose three children will all be affected by the closure, said: “I know it’s not far to walk but when it’s raining and dark, it really isn’t nice for the children. I’m really angry at Stagecoach for doing this. I can’t believe they can withdraw it just like that.”
In another devastating blow, parents were told that Deer Park School and Gloucestershire County Council are unable to prevent the changes or provide replacement transport as pupils living within Stratton are not legally entitled to free transport.
The termination of the 53 service will come into effect on Sunday, November 10.
A petition to save the 53 service, set up by parents, can be found at: www.petitions24.com/save_the_school_bus
Comments are closed on this article.