Monday, September 23, 2013

Commitment given to improve Harris Academy transport situation

I have today welcomed a commitment by Dundee City Council to investigate several concerns about the bus operation for pupils living in the West End of the city who travel to the Harris Academy decant site at Lawton Road.

I have, over the current term, raised a number of concerns raised by West End parents about the operation of the 11S and 12S school buses and I am very keen that the operation of these services is reviewed over the October holidays to ensure that next term the issues have been fully addressed.   
Amongst the issues raised by West End parents :

a) There are concerns that one of the buses – the 12S – gets filled to capacity and that the capacity issue could be better managed.    Because the 12S fills to capacity, further along the route there have been instances of pupils having the stand on the stairs, which parents rightly view as unacceptable.  Parents have asked where it is the case that the first 12S is nearing capacity by the time it reaches Sinderins, it should then go direct to Lawton Road via Hawkhill, leaving the duplicate 12S immediately behind to pick up on Perth Road - or have one 12S run only from further down the route slightly earlier.

b) There is absolutely no doubt that the second 12S is required and must continue after the October holidays.     The council has said it would initially run the duplicate until the holidays but usage shows it is definitely needed long term.

c) Parents feel that the current timing both morning and afternoon is too close to the start and end of the timetable.   In the mornings, given that the buses arrive literally a few minutes before registration starts, there is a rush of pupils into the school and it only takes the bus to be a few minutes late for pupils to miss the start of registration.   Starting the services from their point of commencement a little earlier would resolve this.

d) Similarly at the end of the school day, the buses leave the school immediately after the bell sounds.   Pupils going to collect home economics items for example (as the school expects pupils to do who have cooking or baking to take home) then going out to get the bus, find the buses departed.   Therefore some pupils are skipping collecting items they have produced and paid for.    Again, a slight re-timing of departure would alleviate this.

e) There are instances of pupils with a priority pass and a paper slip for the afternoon bus not getting on a bus home.    This has to be fully resolved before the darker late afternoons start.

The City Council’s Head of Transportation has responded positively to my request for a review to improve the Harris Academy bus operations, as follows:

“Thank you for this useful feedback and I agree relatively simple amendments that we will consider.

A review of operations is being undertaken of the Harris decant transport arrangements.”

I am pleased that there has been a positive response from the City Council to my request for improvements to the school transport operations to Harris Academy for West End pupils.    It is important that these are addressed in advance of the darker winter days ahead.