Monday, 17 June 2013

Latest on Harris Academy bus travel arrangements

Further to my article last month on progress towards ensuring there are satisfactory bus travel arrangements for pupils of Harris Academy after the decant to Rockwell takes place at the start of the new term in August, the City Council's Head of Education (Secondary and Support for Learners) has updated as follows:

"A meeting was held on 5 June 2013 to discuss final preparations for the transport arrangements to Harris Academy Lawton Road.   The strategy of using the existing commercial network of bus services was finalised and I am confident that, following a short period of bedding in, the proposal will work well and that there will be sufficient capacity to accommodate all entitled pupils.    Our strategy of using existing buses is an affordable approach which gives pupils the added benefit of being able to access free travel on the NXD bus network throughout the school year (term-time).   

There have been concerns expressed about potential capacity issues and in particular the attractiveness of the direct buses to Lawton Road relative to other bus services.   With the exception of the double decker bus that will leave from Invergowrie each day, all the bus services are registered (i.e. available to the public).  This means we are somewhat restricted in what we can do to manage loadings at the beginning of the return journey from Rockwell, but the school is planning to adopt a number of strategies to manage the numbers and ensure the pupils make use of all the available options.   

These strategies will be communicated to pupils in the coming weeks, before the end of the summer term and may be adapted following experience of the first few weeks in August 2013.  I can confirm that we do not plan to provide additional capacity over and above the registered services.  These plans have been discussed and shared with colleagues from Perth & Kinross Council."

I have been in correspondence with council officers about possible capacity issues with the proposed 11S and 12S new school buses which leave Perth Road to Rockwell each morning (by different routes and doing the reverse journeys at the end of the school day).   These two services will be popular as they cover much of the Harris catchment area and it is vital that pupils can get on these services and that there is sufficient capacity.

A leaflet is being issued by the school to all pupils by the school that gives a good level of detail regarding travel alternatives - you can download it here.     I have sought an assurance that the leaflet will also be given to P7 pupils at feeder primaries who will attend Harris Academy from the start of the new academic year in August.