Sunday, 27 January 2013

Improving school transport for St John's High School's West End pupils

On numerous occasions over 2011 and 2012, I raised with Dundee City Council the continued poor transport provision for West End pupils who attend St John’s High School.

The issue was initially highlighted in 2011 when National Express Dundee withdrew the 4S school bus that took St John’s pupils from the West End to the school and back every school day.    

Although, after the campaign to improve the situation, there was some movement - in particular in relation to a service at the end of the school day, albeit convoluted via Ninewells Hospital - travel to school arrangements for West End pupils attending St John’s remains highly unsatisfactory.    The recent wintry weather has highlighted this really unsatisfactory situation for pupils who all live within the St John’s catchment area.

I have continued to campaign to have the City Council recognise the need to provide a mini-bus service as a long-term solution to the problem.  The council owns a significant mini-bus fleet and as the council is now looking vehicle fleet management in a more corporate way, it has it within its resources to assist St John’s pupils in the catchment area.

This month, I asked the council’s Corporate Fleet Manager for an update on progress.   He has now advised:

“I have been through to Perth & Kinross and gathered a lot of good information on how they have taken pool minibuses forward.  I have also held initial informal meetings with some of the main minibus users in the council to try and gain an understanding of their needs and requirements.

We are now at the stage to set up and formalise a working group across the council to look at developing an implementation plan in relation to minibuses.”

This is useful progress but I do feel it is vital that a minibus solution is in place for the St John’s pupils by the start of the new academic year in August.   With the decant of Harris Academy pupils to Rockwell in August and the transport provision that will rightly be made for pupils who then have some distance to travel to Rockwell, it would indeed be unacceptable that arrangements are made for pupils of one of our schools but not for another.