Fife may scrap some school bus journeys in new review

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A new Fife Council review could see some school bus services removed.

In a bid to introduce a unified policy, the local authority  is reviewing all bus journeys for children within the two mile walking limit to school.

This  may result in  free bus travel being removed from around 1000 youngsters.

A report to the education committee on Tuesday told councillors that currently, the position leaves the council open to challenges and complaints.

Some children were historically provided with school transportation because of a lack of unsafe walking routes, especially in rural areas.  However, Shelagh McLean,head of education and children’s services, told the committee that some of those reasons no longer existed, due to improvements from the council.

Gary Moyes, travel and transportation manager, told the committee: “There are a number of historic routes which now have pavements, zebra crossings and even footbridges in place.

“We have invested a lot of money in making safer walking routes to schools, including reducing some speed limits to 20mph on some routes.

“The records don’t back up why many of these buses were granted. For example, Boreland to Dysart primary have a bus route. This was granted because children had to walk through ‘unsafe fields’, even though there is a path the whole route. There is no reason for them to be allowed to have transport.”

However, some councillors were concerned about the affect this could have on children getting to school.

Cllr Helen Law, Labour for Dunfermline North, said: “This report is not detailed enough and I think it’s absolutely outrageous.

“You say it is not our responsibility to get these children to school, but if they’re not in school, they can’t be taught. I think we should refer this back for further information.”

But Ms McLean told the committee this was the fairest way to introduce a policy.

She added: “This will only affect children who are not distance entitled – anyone who lives more than two miles from school will still be entitled to transport.”

And Mr Moyles noted: “There are 30,000 other pupils who live equal distance who are not provided with transport. They will be no better or no worse off than those. We need to balance it out.

“This report doesn’t say that all 1000 children will have transport removed. In some cases, there are still a lack of walking routes and those children will still be provided with travel.”

The committee agreed to start the consultation to see where bus routes could be removed.