School bus route changes causing controversy

Stephen Hillier, Cabinet Member for Children ' Start of Life
Stephen Hillier, Cabinet Member for Children ' Start of Life

Changes to the bus route between Plaistow and The Weald School have been criticised as ‘unreasonable’ and ‘penny-pinching’.

Route 502 now leaves the Plaistow Church stop at 7.37am, arriving at The Weald School in Station Road, Billingshurst, at 8.05am.

The next available bus would get them to school late, a particular problem when exam time comes.

Plaistow resident and mother Lindsay Carter told the County Times that this change, brought in at the beginning of the summer term, has caused a number of problems for families in the village.

“They’re expecting children to arrive half an hour earlier at school,” she said. “They’re being very unreasonable; parents are up in arms about it.”

Mrs Carter said the system had been running smoothly for many years, and she could see no reason for the change.

“Why are they penny-pinching on school buses?” she asked.

“They are imposing new timetables that make scores of children lose 30 minutes of sleep and the opportunity to do paper rounds, all to save a few pounds.

“What will happen in the autumn? Children walking along the road in the pitch black?”

On one occasion, she said, the bus had arrived at 7.50am, before the school gates were even unlocked.

Although Mrs Carter has contacted West Sussex County Council about the problem, she said neither she nor anyone else she knew had got a response from them.

She added: “I phoned Crawley Luxury [Coaches]. He knew exactly straight away I was talking about the Weald bus route - everybody’s complaining.”

Weald assistant headteacher Karen Furse said she understood families’ frustration, but added that the school has no say in tranport contracts, which are awarded by West Sussex County Council.

She added that the school gates open between 7.55am and 8am, allowing pupils who arrived early to get into the library and the canteen.

Neither West Sussex County Council nor Crawley Luxury Coaches responded to a request for a response.

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