Solution found to pupil travel troubles after Lancaster school bus service scrapped
A commercial bus operator has stepped in to provide an alternative to an axed school service for pupils attending a secondary school in Lancaster.
The scrapping of the S24 service for Central High School students living in the Marsh area of the city had sparked a petition supported by affected families.
The bus will make the trip for the final time this week before being taken off the road as part of a Lancashire County Council policy to withdraw funding for school services where no students who are entitled to free transport to get them to class have made use of it for the past two years - and where the revenue from fares does not cover the running costs.
However, a meeting of the authority heard that Stagecoach would be tweaking two of its services from September to ensure that pupils could use them without having to change buses.
Cabinet member for education and skills Jayne Rear said that the two routes were the number 11 - from Lancaster Bus Station to The Marsh and back to the bus station - and the number 10 - from the bus station to The Ridge and back again.
“In the afternoon, the 10 service will leave Keswick Road at 15.10 and although at the bus station changes to the 11 service before continuing to The Marsh, students will not need to change buses. The 11 will arrive at The Marsh at 15.38.
“Currently, in the morning, students would need to catch the 10 from The Marsh and then change onto the 11 at the bus station. Here again, Stagecoach have offered to change their services so that the 10 will leave The Marsh at 07.39 and continue as the service 11 from the bus station and arrive at The Ridge at around 08.10. Again, the students will not need to change buses.
“Stagecoach offer a child weekly ticket at £14.50 and a 28-day ticket at £53. By comparison, the cost of a daily return fair from September of county council school bus services for lower mileage bus journeys is £3.10. Both Stagecoach tickets are available online and the company have also offered, if required, to sell these tickets directly to the school,” County Cllr Rear explained.
Lancaster Central county councillor Gina Dowding, who had called for the S24 to be extended for a term while a sustainable solution was found, welcomed the news - but asked the authority to commit to looking at bus services “in the round...before we get to these kinds of situations where families and schoolchildren are really alarmed”.