Bus problems for Royston school children

SCHOOL children from Royston have been subjected to problems getting to and from a school since the new term started, with one boy being forced to walk home alone in the dark.

The difficulties surround children who attend the Freman College in Buntingford. The boy, aged 15, was made to walk home in the rain at 6pm, and eight other children were denied entry to a bus on their first day at the school.

The boy, who did not want to be named, had been attending an after school class which finished in the evening.

He then tried to enter the 331 Arriva public bus from Buntingford to Royston, which is the last service of the day. When he was refused he began the nine mile journey home, and was eventually picked up just outside Royston.

The boy’s father said: “The driver said to him he was not allowed to use his ticket, even though he had used the other half earlier on in the day.

“They refused him, but he didn’t have any money to pay for it. My wife and I were tied up and couldn’t get him, so he had no choice.

“By the time he was picked up it was pitch black and had been raining. There are hardly any footpaths on that road, and he had a huge blister on his foot. He had to have the next day off school because he felt so rough.”

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The boy had tried to use a complimentary ticket which was given to him by Arriva after a similar incident had occurred at the end of last term.

Back then, he had brought a return but had lost the ticket. He was denied entry even though he was in school uniform, had a student card and the same driver was on the bus as in the morning.

“They sent us some complimentary tickets when this happened, and a letter stating drivers should never refuse a child onto the bus, so for them to refuse one of their own tickets after this is unbelievable,” the boy’s father said.

Arriva were not available for comment.

In a separate incident, eight 13-year-old children who were ready to attend their first day at Freman College were denied entry to a school bus.

One of the children’s mothers said: “The bus turned up at Royston and the driver had already taken too many on by the time my daughter tried to board.

“He said they didn’t have enough room for everyone. We weren’t told this might happen. We have been leaving at 7.45am every morning since then. We have applied for the season tickets too.”

Helen Loughran, head teacher at Fremen College, said: “Home to school transport is co-ordinated by Hertfordshire County Council’s passenger transport unit and not by schools themselves. However, we are always concerned if students encounter problems with their transport to school.

“At the beginning of last week we learned that some students who did not have season tickets were unable to get on the bus.

“Companies can keep seats free for students along the route, but cannot reserve places for students intending to pay on the day. Hopefully the students in question have received their season tickets or will do so soon.”