Angry parents have called for action after voicing a litany of concerns over the bus taking their children to school.
Complaints go back two years. since a double-decker bus started taking children from Cove and Kilcreggan to Hermitage Academy.
Things came to a head in December when a window fell off the upper deck while pupils were travelling home, and last month many parents staged a boycott when it was used during very high winds.
Last night (Tuesday) a delegation of parents told a meeting of Cove and Kilcreggan Community Council that the bus travelled too fast and was in in poor condition.
One worried mother said it ‘flew along’ even in bad weather and despite overhanging branches.
She said the bus was ‘not fit for purpose’ in bad weather, and other parents complained about the speed at which it was driven, saying this was sometimes because it started the run behind schedule.
Michelle Smith confirmed that it had been boycotted because of safety concerns, as reported here, and said even a new double-decker would not be suitable for the B833 along the Rosneath Peninsula.
Carmel Kirby said: “I have followed the bus after my children missed it and it is going faster than I would drive in a car! Going round bends it is almost on three wheels.
“If you put that bus on a route in Glasgow you would have passengers up in arms.
“The damp is awful – it really is bad.”
Parents also said that when conditions were bad because of snow pupils had been ordered off the bus at the bottom of the Mill Brae, with volunteers in 4x4s taking them home – they asked for clarity about who was responsible for supervising the children in these circumstances.
The service contract was awarded by Argyll and Bute Council, and Cllr George Freeman said: “We all treat safety as a serious issue. I will also take up these issues as well.”
Cllr Maurice Corry said he had taken the matter up with council officials as soon as the contract was awarded, as it was ‘let incorrectly’.
“I have had so many complaints from parents about it,” he said.
“I am a qualified transport manager and I am not happy about it – this should be a single deck bus situation – even the camber on the Mill Brae is wrong.”
Community councillor John Auld said many people had concerns, especially given the distance that pupils had to travel on the bus.
“After the window came out some of the parents were concerned and one of them has passed me some pictures which show defects,” he said – these are shown at the end of this article.
“There are issues where branches in some places still smack the bus.
“It has been raised by the parents and given the number of parents that have come along here tonight it is a real problem.“
Community council chairman Nick Davies said he would write to Cleland Sneddon, Argyll and Bute’s executive director of community services, asking for action to be taken on several issues:
- The condition of the bus – with leaks and severe condensation being reported
- Speed and the fact it continues to run in high wind – despite assurances when the contract was first awarded, the switch to a single decker has only happened once.
- Road conditions – the bus was said to hit branches on the B833
- Unpredictable timing – parents said the bus was late arriving some mornings, and this was then made worse by it picking up extra pupils in Shandon, Rhu and Helensburgh. At one stage pupils had been marked as ‘late’ at the academy, despite using the bus.
- Seatbelts – parents said these were stiff, awkward to use and covered in mould.