School pupils left stranded as service no longer viable for bus company

Parents are desperate to find an alternative

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 5:02 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 5:04 pm

Students have been left stranded after a bus company was forced to withdraw its service as too few pupils use it.

Years ago, Herberts Travel would transport between 50 and 60 pupils to various schools in Wilstead, Wixams, Elstow, Wootton and Marston Vale - but now the figures have dwindled and it's no longer cost effective.

Nina Russell, general manager at Herberts Travel, said: "We've been running at a loss since Covid.

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"We transport a maximum of eight pupils - and that's just a maximum - that's not every day."

The private bus company terminates the contract on Thursday (July 22) - and is currently only transporting one student in Marston Vale as the other schools have broken up.

Nina added: "There's only so much we can do."

One desperate Wixams parent contacted Bedford Today to say her child - and 12 others - had become victims of the change from a three-tier education system to a two-tier one.

She said: "These last few kids are in a bit of a bind as the community now has a high school and sixth form, and these are the last that are still in the three tier system that need to access their current school and college site.

"It's certainly not Herberts' fault. We are trying to find alternatives - but they are costly and unsafe.

"The remaining kids in the three-tier system are being left out."

Parents have been looking into alternatives, like car sharing, hiring taxis or even buying a minibus - as the service would only be needed for another two years when the relevant tier system changes.

The parent - who wanted to remain anonymous - added: "It's frustrating. My other alternative is for my daughter to get a bus at 6.30am which would take her into the bus station - then bus or train out to the villages."

A Bedford Borough Council spokesman said: “The cancellation of this bus route was a commercial decision taken by Herberts Travel and not Bedford Borough Council.

“The council previously paid for four season tickets on this service for children who we had a legal responsibility to provide school transport for. Since being notified of the changes, we have been looking at alternative options for the four students.”

If you are a bus or transport company and you think you can help, email [email protected]