Extra bus seats for schoolchildren to continue until Christmas

A SCHEME providing hundreds of extra bus seats for schoolchildren and commuters is to be extended and expanded until Christmas.

An additional 147 places are being added to the 1,160 temporary seats already in place on some of Staffordshire’s busiest bus routes, where commercial services with safety restrictions in place wouldn’t be able to carry all potential passengers.

The initial scheme ran from the beginning of September to October half-term, but now the scheme is being extended for the second half term from November until schools break up for Christmas.

Jonathan Price, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for Education (and SEND), said: "Around 1,500 of the 8,000 pupils entitled to free Home to School transport use public service routes rather than dedicated school buses.

"There is a limited number of spare buses and drivers available at peak time, so we’re duplicating services on some of the busiest public routes to make sure there is enough space for pupils and commuters to get where they need to go.

"This has proved to be an essential service in the current circumstances and we’re determined to keep working with schools and transport operators.”

Duplicate services are being provided in areas including Burton, Biddulph, Stafford, Uttoxeter, Cheadle, Newcastle, Tamworth, Lichfield, Cannock and Coven.

Money has also been spent on tree maintenance, where branches need lopping off trees to allow double deck buses to run safely on a route in place of single deck vehicles.

Coun Price added: "As well as ensuring the council is meeting its legal duty to ensure children entitled to free transport can get to school, these 1,300 temporary seats will free up the busiest commercial routes for commuters.

"We’ve also introduced larger vehicles on some routes and transferred pupils entitled to free transport to duplicate services or to rerouted school buses and these temporary changes also create extra space on commercial services for fare-paying passengers.”



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