Schoolchildren stranded as bus service axed

SchoolChildren living in a South Yorkshire village who have just returned to classes have been left stranded by the withdrawal of its only bus service, residents say.

Residents of Cadeby are angry after their bus service was cancelled.

People in Cadeby, near Doncaster, are campaigning to reinstate the 224 route, which was withdrawn by operator Stagecoach in July and replaced with the 219, which does not serve the village.

As well as leaving villagers cut off, the decision is also hitting Doncaster taxpayers who may now have to foot the bill for taxis to ferry pupils to and from Orchard and Copley junior schools in Sprotbrough.

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Cynthia Simpson, spokeswoman for the Cadeby bus action group, said: “The final cost to Doncaster rate-payers will depend on how many parents request the taxi service this year, but it could easily run into several thousands of pounds annually.”

While the schools are only two miles away, Doncaster Council is legally obliged to provide transport as the three access roads to Cadeby have no streetlights or footpaths and so are deemed unsafe walking routes by the Department for Education.

Mrs Simpson said residents thought it “a great pity” the bus company did not share the Government’s safety concerns.

Secondary school-age pupils are catered for with a dedicated school bus service, the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) said. The transport body has also laid on the twice-weekly 319 service, which runs on Tuesdays and Fridays, following the changes.

A spokesman said there was little it could about Stagecoach’s decision as the 219 was a commercially-operated route and did not receive any subsidies.

He added: “We have got a limited budget for things we can pay for on a non-commercial basis but we can keep an eye on the situation.”

Stagecoach said it decided to withdraw the service after a “major consultation” with customers and stakeholders in February.

“The old 224 is one of the services we operated where income is actually lower than the cost of running the route,” said a spokeswoman.

“As the route had reached an unsustainable position, we looked at how we could maintain the best service possible for the majority of customers.”

It said the new 219 service could not serve Cadeby because of its “very low useage” and the extra time it would add to journeys.

But residents insist the company’s claim that passenger levels were significantly lower than along other parts of the old route are “untrue”.

Doncaster Council said it did not expect its obligation to provide transport to pupils would greatly affect taxpayers.

“We are aware of the issues caused by the removal of school bus services to Cadeby following Stagecoach’s decision to withdraw based on commercial reasons and low demand,” a spokesman said.

“Unfortunately the transport executive are not in a position to offer tendered services due to budget constraints.

”Prior to withdrawal the patronage of the service was below eight pupils.

“The council does have a duty to provide transport to school where there is no safe walking route.

“The council’s school transport team have written to the two families they are aware have been affected and have offered assistance if necessary.

“One family has said they do not need any assistance, the other has not responded so far.”