Citybus to axe four out of 10 Plymouth school buses next month
PLYMOUTH Citybus has sparked anger by deciding to axe four of its 10 school buses from next month.
One mum said she feared for her son's safety after the firm revealed plans to withdraw school services 104, 109, 115 and 142 from November 3.
Citybus says it has taken the decision because the buses are "not commercially viable".
But furious Plympton mum Suzanne Kiely said son Jake, 12, now feared he would not be able to get to school.
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The 36-year-old said she may have to face giving up work to get the youngster to Devonport High School for Boys (DHSB) on time for lessons.
Citybus sparked anger in April last year with plans to scrap 12 school bus routes, blaming rising fuel costs and a lack of funding from the local authority to subsidise the journeys.
But the transport company made an eleventh-hour U-turn just two months later.
However, the latest announcement affects pupils at DHSB, Sir John Hunt Community College, Notre Dame School, St Boniface's Catholic College, Devonport High School for Girls (DHSG) and Plymouth High School for Girls.
In a statement, a Citybus spokesperson said: "The services are being withdrawn because they are not commercially viable.
"They are school buses which run once in the morning and once in the afternoon and which do nothing in between.
"We are increasing capacity on our other buses. We have just bought 20 new double deckers, and we have another 20 coming soon. Capacity won't be an issue."
The bus company says pupils who currently use the 104, from Crownhill to DHSB, should use services 29 and 61 as alternatives, while those affected by the axing of the 109, from Plympton to DHSB, should use the 21 or 21A.
Those who usually catch the 142 from Sir John Hunt to Tamerton Foliot are being told to use the 42A and pupils who currently use the 115 to get from Plympton to DHSG can use a new school service, the 103, the firm says it will introduce next month.
That service, which will operate from Plympton to Notre Dame School, will in part replace the withdrawn 115 and 109, it said.
But worried Mrs Kiely, whose son relies on the 109, said he would face a long walk to the school gates if he were to catch an alternative service.
She fears for his safety and has hit out at the Citybus decision.
"Why is it all about money and not about our children's safety?" Mrs Kiely said. "The closest stop to DHSB is Stonehouse Bridge. There was an attack in that area not that long ago.
"I think the school pupils will be targeted in that area. It really concerns me.
"The road that they will have to walk along, Paradise Road, for about 15 minutes to get to the school is also deadly.
"It's so busy. And with the approaching winter weather it's just asking for an accident.
"I just can't understand how the school service 109 is not financially viable," she added. "It's a double-decker bus that is always packed.
"And all the parents pay £50 a month for their child to use the service.
The mum of three said she would not be able to take all her children to their schools and arrive at work on time.
"My son is worried because he doesn't know how he's going to get to school any more," she said. "I just don't know what we're going to do. It might be that I have to give up work."
Citybus commercial manager Peter Oliver said on the firm's Facebook page: "New school service 103 starts from November to replace service 115 and 109.
"The route of the new service will be St Maurice, Chaddlewood, Woodford, Lipson, Plymouth High, DHSG via Outland Road then Notre Dame School via Crownhill.
"This means that the bus from Plympton will be better suited for those going to St Boniface and Notre Dame especially when it comes to coming home as the bus will be starting from Notre Dame leaving at 3.30pm.
"For those going to DHSB from Plympton there is the service 21A which operates to Barne Barton with the closest stop to DHSB being Stonehouse Bridge."