Parents’ anger at bus price hike

Parents are up in arms after their children’s school bus price rose by 50 per cent and became so busy that kids weren’t always able to get a seat.

Up until the start of this school year, children travelling to Lady Manners School from the Matlock area were able to catch the 151 bus service for £1.

This year, children from the area – which is officially out of the Lady Manners catchment – have to pay £1.50.

Shelley Birks, of Darley Moor, said: “At first they offered us a yearly bus pass for £317 but they have since written a letter saying they have withdrawn this.”

Concerned mum Tracey Atkins added: “Your only choice now is either the expensive bus, a bus which only drops children in Bakewell town centre or to drive the children yourself – which a lot of parents cannot do.”

Another worry for parents how busy the service gets.

Tracey said: “They told us the service wasn’t available because there isn’t the demand – but there’s not enough seats for all the children and there have even been instances of children being left behind.”

Beth Lessiter, of Hackney, added: “We realise that we’re lucky to have a bus service for children out of catchment, but we would expect that, especially at the higher price, our children would at least get a seat.”

A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council explained that when parents send their children to a school outside the normal catchment area, it is their responsibility to get them there as they do not ‘normally qualify’ for help with the cost of school transport.

However, Tracey’s son – who spends time with his father in the out of catchment village Grindleford – is still able to get to school for less than £1 when travelling from Grindleford.

She said: “I know for a fact that other out-of-catchment areas aren’t having these problems and there doesn’t seem to be any consistency.”

With regards to the overcrowding issue, a spokesman for the county council said: “We were aware of overcrowding on the school bus to Lady Manners from the Matlock area and after we spoke to local companies, Slacks decided to put on a commercial service to the school.

“Around 70 young people are using the new service which is working well but if any parents have concerns they can contact us and we will liaise with the operator.”