Scores of students from the Stokes who attend Winterbourne Academy have struggled to make it to school on time since the start of the new term in January as a result of traffic congestion and operational issues surrounding the number 963 school bus service.
Journeys to and from the school have been affected by delays caused by South Gloucestershire Council’s major roadworks at Great Stoke (Rabbit) Roundabout, which began in earnest on 2nd January.
Around 150 students travel to the school from the Stokes and many of these use the number 963 bus service which starts in Patchway and follows a route that takes it through north Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke, south Bradley Stoke and Parkway North (Hunts Ground Road area) before heading along Beacon Lane towards the school.
The route means that the bus is doubly affected by the Great Stoke roadworks as it takes in the roundabout twice, the first time crossing from Bradley Stoke Way to Great Stoke Way and a second time traversing from Great Stoke Way to the Winterbourne Road.
The start of the new term also saw a changeover of operator on the number 963 service, with Stagecoach taking over from South Gloucestershire Bus & Coach. The switchover created additional difficulties with parents complaining about issues including unexpected price hikes, a single decker vehicle being used instead of a double decker and students being left stranded at the roadside.
A statement provided to the school by Stagecoach on 8th January admitted that fares on the service had been increased “in error” and would be reinstated to previous levels from the next day. The company also admitted that a single decker had been used on the service that day, but said a “larger bus” would be used in future.
Jason Beardmore, headteacher at Winterbourne Academy, said:
“Whilst transport to and from school is the responsibility of the local authority, we want to support families where there are concerns and so have investigated the situation on their behalf. We have liaised between parents and Stagecoach over concerns raised and believe that the majority of these have now been resolved.”
“We acknowledge that the roadworks and subsequent traffic delays are causing some students using public transport to arrive late, and have shared this with staff, including tutors. Students arriving late due to legitimate public transport issues beyond their control will not be given a sanction provided they report to reception on arrival.”
The number 963 service is subsidised by South Gloucestershire Council. Anyone with concerns about the service can contact the council’s public transport team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: A number 963 Winterbourne Academy school bus service vehicle stuck in traffic congestion at Great Meadow Roundabout.
Update (5th April 2020)
Useful link: Getting to Winterbourne Academy (Stagecoach)
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