Bus service confusion results in pupil safety fears

Urgent action is being taken to address bus service confusion in Peebles amid concerns over pupils travelling to and from school.
Fears have been expressed over pupil safety due to confusion over school bus services in Peebles.Fears have been expressed over pupil safety due to confusion over school bus services in Peebles.
Fears have been expressed over pupil safety due to confusion over school bus services in Peebles.

The re-branding of the 362 Peebles High School bus service to the general X62 Borders Buses service between Innerleithen and Peebles has led to a series of issues.

There have been some reports of pupils being refused travel and arriving late for lessons, as well as instances of others arriving home late due to delays with the X62 from Edinburgh.

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Parents are also concerned that the updated service now allows members of the public to travel with pupils which can cause overcrowding.

But officials say that much of the current situation is the result of pupils not using the bus service to which they have been allocated.

At a meeting of Scottish Borders Council, Tweeddale East ward’s councillor Marshall Douglas asked if steps had been taken to engage with pupils and parents to allay fears over the safety of children travelling to and from school.

Mr Marshall said there was also an impression among some parents that the 326 service had been completely withdrawn and replaced by the X62.

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Councillor Jenny Linehan, the council’s executive member for environment and transport, said that the council’s transport team was working closely with the school, Peebles Parents Council and transport operators to resolve the situation quickly.

She added: “All pupils in Peebles are allocated to a specific contract in order to ensure there is no issue with capacity and that there is sufficient space for members of the public that may wish to travel.

“The current challenges arise primarily from pupils who choose other buses which in turn causes some problems with capacity. This is a direct result of some of the behavioural issues which have been confirmed through monitoring and operators CCTV.

“We believe that pupils are choosing to travel on different vehicles due to the behaviour of individuals on others. There is also an element of pupils believing they can use on any bus as they have a free under-22 pass.

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“In order to resolve the issues officers are actively working with the school and parents to refine service provision.

“The bus operator has made us aware that there are no issues with over-boarding on any contracts but has highlighted that not all pupils are making use of available seats. This may be because some pupils feel uncomfortable sitting next to others, but it does give the impression that there are insufficient seats available.

“We had similar challenges in Earlston earlier in the term but working together with the school and the operators we have managed to resolve them. I am confident that we should be able to resolve the challenges we face in Peebles.”

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