Parents furious with 'unacceptable' school bus service traveling to and from Aylesbury

Children have been stuck waiting for buses in the dark for over an hour
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Aylesbury parents are aghast at the continued issues their children are having trying to catch a bus to school.

Students attending Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School have been unable to get on buses at the start or end of their day.

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In the morning and mid-afternoon children have been left stranded on a number of occasions trying to catch the 280 bus operated by Arriva.

A series of Arriva buses operate in and out of AylesburyA series of Arriva buses operate in and out of Aylesbury
A series of Arriva buses operate in and out of Aylesbury

The 280 service is one of the more popular buses covering Bucks, it goes from Oxford to Aylesbury and vice versa via Thame.

Often the bus provided between 7-9am and after 3:30pm is a single-decker vehicle meaning it is regularly at full capacity.

Bus drivers have refused children as young as 11 entry onto buses which were at “full capacity”.

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Headteacher at Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School, Ms Cochrane, has requested a meeting with the bus service to address parents’ concerns.

While Bucks Council is “very concerned” about the situation.

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Arriva has linked recent issues to temporary driver shortages which has meant the company has used a reduced fleet of buses.

Parents say the issue has persisted ever since the school term started in September, and have been left frustrated with “templated” responses provided by complaints and customer service agents at Arriva, which do not offer a solution to the problem.

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The Bucks Herald has seen reports of children being left stranded for at least 30 minutes which have been sent to Arriva by parents, that the company has not responded to.

Another problem which has been raised with the transport business is the inconsistent arrival of buses.

On occasions buses are cancelled at short notice, or arrive at times which contradict the timetable pupils are using.

Some children have started walking in the dark to other bus stops on Oxford Road which are less busy, rather than face an uncertain wait in the dark at the one outside the school.

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Several parents who send children to Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School purchased year-long passes with Arriva enabling their children to travel to and from school on the commercial buses.

One parent said to Arriva: “Every day our children cannot get on the buses as they are too full as they send a single decker bus on a known busy route and then they wait for the next scheduled services which are often cancelled leaving them stranded on main roads of Aylesbury in the dark.

"Many parents have complained and asked for accountability for this appalling service with little or no response at all.

"This is completely unacceptable. To say I’m angry is an understatement.”

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Another mum whose daughter who is in year eight gets the service from Aylesbury to Haddenham, said her child has had to wait for over an hour to get home once.

She requested for Arriva to: “Please respond honestly, without resorting to templated responses, which I've seen many examples of recently. I'd like someone at Arriva to genuinely take responsibility, examine the root cause of the trouble - which is consistent by the way, not just the odd 'off day' - offer reimbursement for all the trouble, and put solutions in place to make sure it doesn't happen again.”

A third parent based in Haddenham labelled the service “shameful” and “unacceptable”.

An Arriva spokesman told The Bucks Herald: “In recent weeks we’ve unfortunately had a number of driver shortages. Added to this, we have had to plan service delivery with reduced fleet. We apologise for the issues our customers, including those travelling to and from Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School have experienced, as a result of these factors.”

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Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School remains concerned with the service having received numerous calls from parents explaining their children will be late for school while waiting for a bus.

Headteacher, Ms Cochrane told The Bucks Herald: “The school is concerned that an inadequate bus service does put students at risk as does untimely arrival and departures or in particular no notice cancellations. The school understands the pressures on other service industries but feels that children's safety must be put first.

"Student safety is of paramount importance to the school and so we share parents' serious concerns about any child being left at bus stops for longer than expected.”

When asked what the school hopes the outcome of her letter to Arriva would be, Ms Cochrane added: “We hope that the outcome will be a meeting with representatives of Arriva to discuss a way forward to increase safety for students travelling to and from school. At the time of writing we are not confident that parents' complaints have been given due attention and consideration.”

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Bucks Council is not responsible for commercial school transport, but when asked for a comment on the situation, Councillor Steven Broadbent said: “We are of course very concerned to hear reports of school children not being able to travel home and have relayed these comments to Arriva, as the Council is not responsible for this commercially operated service. We understand that Arriva are considering the issue and should be able to confirm the action they are taking.”