Monday, 25 June 2012

Concern as school bus withdrawn

I am concerned to have been advised that a decision by Perth and Kinross Council to withdraw a vital school bus that takes Harris Academy pupils home after the school day to Invergowrie, Longforgan and Inchture will adversely also affect pupils in parts of the West End of Dundee.

Last week, Perth & Kinross Council advised Harris Academy parents who live in the Perth & Kinross area of Carse of Gowrie that the 3.50pm Number 16 school bus operated by Stagecoach Strathtay would no longer be supported by their council and was being withdrawn.    This is apparently because of budget pressures and the fact that only one pupil who uses it qualifies for free travel due to distance from home to school.   However, the bus is used by many fare-paying pupils in both the Perth & Kinross Council part of the Harris Academy catchment area and in the area of Perth Road west of Harris Academy within the Dundee boundary.

I have already had concerns about this expressed by constituents who live in the far west part of Perth Road – for example in Clovis Duveau Drive – and the particular concern is for the youngest secondary pupils in S1 and S2 where parents are not comfortable with the long walk these younger pupils will have to take home given the withdrawal of this school bus, particularly in the bad weather over winter.    The bus is to be withdrawn from the start of the new term in August and this exacerbates the already poor service locally following the re-routing of the Number 5 service away from the west end of Perth Road.

If pupils wait for the next service bus, they would be standing waiting for a bus until 4.16pm – over half an hour after the school day ends.    Perth and Kinross Council has indicated to their pupils that they could also use the Stagecoach Strathtay 77 service but it is not well-timed at all and does not help West End pupils living in the far west part of Perth Road, as it does not pass that way.

I have asked Dundee City Council transportation officials to open a dialogue with their counterparts in our neighbouring council to see what can be done in advance of the new term starting in August.

I have to say that I am really concerned to see yet another detrimental cut to bus service provision in this part of the West End – this time also affecting our neighbours into the Perth & Kinross Council area.    We already have a petition gathering pace about the unfortunate change to the National Express Number 5 route that has taken the service away from the most westerly part of Perth Road and this latest news on the afternoon school bus operated by Stagecoach Strathtay is further bad news.