Parents unhappy with Uttlesford school bus route

Stephensons bus

Stephensons bus - Credit: Archant

Parents have voiced concerns over an Uttlesford school bus route after reports of pupils being dropped off half an hour late for lessons and forced to stand during long journeys.

The 446 Stephensons bus service from Manuden to Saffron Walden has been fraught with problems, including pupils having to change buses and stand during their journey, which for some children has lasted more than an hour and a half.

Ben Hartley, 40, of Skeins Way, who has two daughters at Saffron Walden County High, says communication with Stephensons has been sparse and he is unhappy that his children are not getting to school on time.

Stephensons says the issues are “teething problems”, which the company is working to sort out.

Mr Hartley said on the first day of term the 446 bus turned up at County High half an hour late after some pupils were forced to change from a double decker bus to a single decker due to a low bridge.

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Mr Hartley said: “The driver of the double decker had clearly not attempted this route before and was unaware of its quirks.

“It turned out that it was necessary for the driver to significantly alter the route, leaving a number of children in outlying areas without school transport on the first day.

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“The convoluted route meant that the bus returned to Clavering three times instead of doing a circuit around the village and eventually arrived in Newport an hour later to discover that it would not fit under the low bridge.

“At this point all of the County High students were forced to change buses to a smaller vehicle to complete their journey, eventually arriving at school half an hour late.”

Mr Hartley added that nothing changed the following day and he is already considering driving his children to school himself.

Another parent, Claire Anderson, 41, whose son has just started in Year 7 at County High, said: “It is completely unacceptable, especially given what we pay for the service.

“Pupils having to stand is not only unsuitable, but it is dangerous and the company needs to sort it out.”

A spokesman for Stephensons said: “We have taken on a number of new services in the Uttlesford area. Inevitably, there are teething problems.

“The first week or two of the new term is never wholly representative due to new students unsure of the routes, fares, boarding points, and increased traffic – as for the first few days some parents elect to drive their children to school.

“In terms of the 446, the problem is low trees along sections of the route. We requested that these be cut but nothing has yet happened.

“We will need to replace the double-deck with a single-deck until the problem can be resolved, although this will unfortunately result in some passengers having to stand, which while perfectly legal, is not ideal.”

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