Axed school bus service only was losing money, say company

Empty buses in Ipswich

Ipswich Buses claims the 511 Kesgrave High School bus has a capacity of 80 students but since 2019 only around 40 have been getting on board.  - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Parents have been left angered by news the 511 bus route to Kesgrave High School will be axed from September - but bosses say only 17 students were booked on.

Steve Bryce, general manager at Ipswich Buses, claims running the 511 service was already costing the company pre-Covid but they did not want to make a rash decision last September. 

He said: "The bus hasn't been full in a long time. Our other school buses are sold out and we've had to put on extra capacity in some cases."

Stephen Bryce, general manager of Ipswich Buses

Stephen Bryce, general manager of Ipswich Buses - Credit: Ipswich Buses

He said the bus has capacity for 80 students but since 2019 only around 40 have been getting on board, while so far only 17 families had pre-booked for September 2021. 

Mr Bryce claims that this is usual as parents have bought tickets for other school bus services in advance of the autumn term.

He also hit out at Kesgrave High School for not taking action sooner after he warned the headteacher in April that the service had "declined" but claims he had no response. 

Julia Upton, the headteacher at Kesgrave High School, said: "Whilst we understand the need to rationalise services, the late notice for the next academic year will cause difficulties to some families.

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"Given the challenges for families and the need to prioritise recovery for our young people as we emerge from the pandemic, this is an unfortunate hurdle to have put in the way of their education."

A man has denied assault and careless driving outside Kesgrave High School. Picture: ARCHANT

Parents have reacted negatively to the news.

Lisa Lloyd, whose son is due to start at Kesgrave High School in September, reacted angrily to the news: 'I have to find other transport for my son to get there. I always feel like we are on the back burner as working parents."

Laura Fleming's children have used the bus for the last seven years and she claims "it's always full".

"What an absolute joke," she said. "How can they base their decision to cease contract on one year during a pandemic? One year it’s not been used as much, wonder why! Two of my children still use this bus and would be for the next four to six years. You cannot base your decision on current use."

There is a park and ride 800 bus, operated by First Bus, which also calls at Kesgrave High School. It runs Mondays to Saturdays every 15 minutes from around 7am to 7pm. 

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