ANGRY parents whose children start secondary school this week say they still have no idea how they will get there after a ‘fiasco’ with school bus places.
A group of parents in the Stokenchurch area say they are still waiting to hear whether their children have got a place on a bus to Great Marlow School – despite applying in April.
And the frustrated group have criticised Amey Transport, which runs the service for Bucks County Council, for not letting them know what is happening and keeping them hanging on hold.
Parent Jayne Stewart, whose daughter starts year seven at Great Marlow on Thursday, said: “We live in Radnage, and we still haven’t heard about bus places. It’s absolutely disgusting.
“We just cannot get through to them. We don’t know if she has got a bus seat, it’s incredible, I can’t believe they’re getting away with it.
“I applied back in April and she is now moving up to secondary school, and it seems everybody is in the same boat.
“It’s a new experience for us, and I work as well so how am I supposed to get her to and from school? We need to know if we have to make alternative arrangements and we could have clubbed together as parents already.”
Amey Transport has operated school transport for BCC since 2008, and arranges for 16,000 children to get to school in the county.
The parents who have spoken to the Bucks Free Press are not eligible for free school transport because their children are not attending their closest school, and are classed as ‘discretionary’ cases.
They are however able to pay for a school bus place if numbers allow, but parents are angry that they still do not know if the places exist.
Kirsty and Lee Campbell from Stokenchurch found out the day before their daughter started Great Marlow that she had been allocated a place on the bus.
But Mrs Campbell, who is recovering from an operation and not yet able to drive, criticised Amey for the delay and leaving them with a possible transport crisis after told they would hear by early August.
She said: "How are we supposed to sort out a contingency plan at this late stage? The whole thing is an absolute debacle!
"If I had known this was going to be an issue I would possibly have struggled on and delayed my operation.”
Stokenchurch parent Darren Hudson said his 11-year-old daughter Daisy did not get a place when her older sister already takes the same bus.
And he said the decision means his wife may have to shorten her work hours to ferry their youngest daughter to school, putting real strain on the family’s finance.
Despite the claims, Amey and BCC say they have written to everyone on the waiting list already, and insist they are doing all they can do accommodate the huge demand.
Ben Thomas, who heads Buckinghamshire County Council’s commissioning team, said: ‘We're sorry for the delay in getting back to parents who have applied for discretionary school bus places, and we understand their anxiety.
“Our contractors, Amey, have written to parents with children on the waiting list as of last week, and they should now know whether or not they have received an offer of a school bus place.
“Applications continue to come in, so the discretionary waiting list remains very much live, and Amey’s team are doing their best to find places for them.
“For those still without a place, Amey are looking at re-routing some school buses to see whether, over the next few days, they can accommodate more pupils from the waiting list.’