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Country News - 2003

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Rural school buses under threat

Wednesday 03 December 2003

PLANS by the Government to reduce "school rush" traffic jams in urban areas could become a threat to free school bus services in rural areas, fears the Country Land and Business Association.

The proposed School Transport Bill outlined in the Queen's Speech last week is designed to persuade more town-based parents to allow their children to use school buses, rather than drive them by car.

But there is a sting in the tail for rural children: the proposal would mean pupils paying more for school bus transport - but in rural areas, this is free to all pupils living more than three miles from their school.

CLA Yorkshire director, Dorothy Fairburn, comments: "It is suggested that councils will have the power to charge families that can afford to pay for using school buses. If this were applied to many families in rural parts of the region they would use their cars even more.

"We welcome any moves that reduce problems of large numbers of cars around schools, many of which have travelled less than a mile or so. But those who live further away would be unfairly disadvantaged.

"They are not the cause of the problem and they should not have to foot the bill. Unless greater understanding is shown of life in the countryside, we will continue to witness the erosion of services essential to maintaining a viable rural economy."


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