Parents have criticised a Buckinghamshire bus company for its ‘unreliable’ service causing anxiety and disruption to pupils and parents.

A number of parents have reported how their daughters attending Dr Challoner’s High School in Little Chalfont have been regularly late for registration because of an unreliable school bus.

The Red Rose school service 180 from Great Missenden to the school on Cokes Lane has gotten worse since September 2021 after Red Rose took over the contract from Transport for Bucks, two parents have claimed.

A mum-of-three from Amersham, who works as a consultant and asked not to be named because of her work, pays £800 for one annual bus pass.

At the start of this term, the bus has been late three out of four days, she said. 

She said: “We kind of tolerated it in September because, well, we have. But obviously in January the girls are doing A-Level and GCSE mocks.

"It always stressed out the new Year sevens when they’re starting and the bus doesn’t show up. They start panicking. You’ve dropped your 12-year-old off and the bus doesn’t come – it is very stressful for the children and the parents," she explained. 

“I have to go and take them, and that makes us all later for work.”

Adding to the uncertainty is the travel app, which doesn’t show the bus’s live journey, parents criticised.

“My daughter looks at it [app] every morning, and says it’s not on there. She doesn’t know if she needs to ask for a lift, wait for the bus or try get the train. It’s causing anxiety even before she’s out the door.”

Even if the bus is on time, the girls won’t make their 8.40am registration because of the timetable. The last stop before the school is in the corner of Copperkins Lane and Bois Avenue at 8.25am, and it takes at least 15-20 mins to the school in the morning, the mother said.

Last year and when the Council ran the service the bus was scheduled earlier, she said. 

Trying to get their daughters to school when the bus doesn’t arrive on time was “all very ad hoc” as parents scrambled to see who was free to drive them.

This is an additional cost for her as she already pays for “much more expensive” private bus pass for her third child, who travels further.

On top of lateness, the buses don’t always have enough seating for all children, she claimed.

Another mother from Chesham Bois, who pays £600 up front for her 12-year-old daughter's pass, and who asked not to be named for fear of impact on her daughter, said: “It’s causing stress whether the bus will turn up or whether it will turn up on time.

“They’re getting into school late, which is causing them a lot of anxiety. Some of them are taking exams soon, and they’ve got their anxiety from that, and then they have to deal with not turning up on time at school." 

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She has used the service under Red Rose, and said “I’ve only experienced a bad service.”

 “We have tried to call them and no one answers the phone. They are not trying to better their service, having so many complaints made to them daily. They’re almost evading the situation.

“We’re now worried about the safeguarding of our children,” she said, referring to an incident when the bus broke down but no replacement arrived, leaving the girls waiting until parents could pick them up.

Red Rose Travel was contacted for a comment.