Syleham, Wingfield, Stradbroke, Denham, Wortham and Palgrave among villages facing bus service issues for Hartismere School in Eye
Parents, who have been left facing a school transport crisis after two services were withdrawn, could be set for a reprieve.
News of the 319 and 310 bus services being scrapped has left some children in Syleham, Wingfield, Stradbroke, Denham, Wortham and Palgrave unable to get to Hartismere School in Eye for the start of the new school term in September.
The difficulties have arisen from the fact that certain villages fall outside of the catchment area for the school, meaning that Suffolk County Council is not obligated to subsidise a bus service for them.
Although there is still a 318 service, which is available for eligible children , the 310 and 319 services are no longer financially supported by council contracts, leaving bus operators Simonds and Fareline with little choice but to assess them as being commercially unviable.
The parent of a child who uses the 310 service, but who did not wish to be named, said: “People who use the 310 public bus to Hartismere have been told that they cannot access that bus anymore.
“Suffolk County Council is forcing Simonds bus company to make this a closed bus. This means those children out of catchment, who regularly use the public bus to access the school, will now have to be driven in or not attend school. No alternatives have been provided.
“Not only will this cause massive congestion at the school, with more parents picking up and dropping off, it also means, in my case, a four-hour drive per day to drop off and pick up my son.
“No consultation. No advance warning. I only have a slim chance of purchasing a spare seat on the bus for £320 per term – a 100 per cent increase on what I was paying for the public bus.”
Despite the consternation from concerned parents, those who were formerly served by the 319 service could be offered a lifeline.
Jeff Morss, owner of Fareline Bus & Coach Services, said he is hoping to find a way to help the stranded children get to school.
“Currently, I average maybe 10 children from those villages, and I need around 20 each day to make it commercially sustainable,” he said.
“I feel for the parents who might have arranged for their children to attend these schools a year ago when there was a bus service, to then suddenly find there is not one.
“I’m considering running it for the first term just to see how it goes, but it would help if parents could get in touch if their child intends to use it.”
Suffolk County Council is considering the restoration of the 482 service between Framlingham and Diss, which would alleviate some of the issues for those children in villages east of Eye.
However, this is understood to be one of several options which are only in the discussion phase, and would not be implemented by September, even if agreed upon.
A council spokesman said: “The operator of the 319 route took a decision to deregister the service as it was not receiving enough patronage from fare-paying pupils to make it commercially viable.
“At the same time, the operator decided it would also no longer operate registered school routes.
“We understand that it is frustrating for families when there are changes to bus services. Pupils are entitled to school transport to their nearest suitable school, and we have been able to move eligible pupils onto the 318 service.”
Anyone wishing to register their interest with Mr Morss should call him on 01379 668151.