Parents facing big hike in fares for school buses

Reporter:

Liam Randall

THE wheels are in motion to discuss plans for an increase on subsidised school bus fares.

Wrexham Council is proposing a fare hike on 15 school special routes from £1.10 to £1.70 – affecting  pupils across the county.

The increase is being proposed as the authority looks to make savings of £126,000 after the Welsh Government cut its supported public transport grant from £800,000 to £674,000 for 2013-14.

‘School specials’ are bus services for non-qualifying pupils which operate in areas where there is a significant demand which is not met by commercial buses.

Running the buses currently costs the council £195,230 per year.

However, the proposed increase has been condemned by Councillor David Bithell who said it may lead to a reduction in pupil attendance.

Cllr Bithell, said: “This is going to hit parents in the pockets to the tune of an extra £115 a year for one child.

“We know the grant has been cut but an incremental increase would be far more acceptable to parents.”

Cllr Joan Lowe, who referred to fairness and choice,  said: “It is far too excessive and will impact on hard-working parents, some of  whom will be unable to afford this massive rise.

“The council should wait until the full review of subsidised transport has been completed.”

Cllr Bob Dutton,  lead member for Environment, said: “The council will be considering this report at next week’s executive board.

“ This proposal is one of a number of measures being debated at the meeting on Tuesday.

“Members, together with other stakeholders, have been consulted and further considerations will be given.”

The proposals will be discussed by Wrexham Council’s executive board on Tuesday.

Plans will also be discussed to scrap a demand responsive community taxi service, West Wheels, which serves rural communities in Coedpoeth, Brymbo, Brynteg, Gwersyllt and Llay when the current contract runs out at the end of this month.

The service costs the council £32,146 per year at a rate of £8.20 per passenger.

Special services

School special bus services that would be affected by the fare increase:

Queensway – Ysgol Clywedog.
Cefn Mawr – Ysgol Rhiwabon.
Holt, Rossett – Darland School.
Southsea – Ysgol Clywedog.
Johnstown – Ysgol y Grango.
Rhos – Ysgol y Grango.
Rhosymedre, Plas Madoc – Ysgol Rhiwabon.
Marchwiel – Ysgol Clywedog.
Plas Madoc – Acrefair School/ Trevor – Garth School.
Caia Park – St Joseph’s School.
Gresford, Marford – Darland School.
Queensway – Ysgol Clywedog.
Burton, Rossett, Gresford – St Joseph’s School.
Gresford, Marford – Darland School.
Acton – St Joseph’s School.

See full story in the Leader

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