School bus pass rule 'could put kids in danger'
A FATHER is angry about a Devon County Council policy which left his 11-year-old son stranded after he could not get to school.
Scott Sibley, of Tedburn St Mary, said a driver for Mid Devon Coaches would not take Callum to Queen Elizabeth's Academy at Crediton because he did not have his bus pass with him.
He said the No Pass, No Travel policy imposed on all school transport providers "lacks common sense" and does not allow bus drivers to use their discretion.
Mr Sibley, of School Close, said: "The most important quibble I have is that even though the bus driver knew that Callum had a valid bus pass, he was still not allowed to take him.
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"I just think it is ridiculous.
"I fully accept that Callum should have had his pass, but commonsense should have come into it.
"What gets me is Callum is 11 years old and he has been going on that bus since September and the driver knows him and sees him day in, day out.
"But he would still not let him on, which I think was a bit cruel," added Mr Sibley, who works as a mechanic in Bovey Tracey.
Callum, who is in his first year at secondary school, was forced to walk from the bus stop back home, around a mile-and-a-half away, and his mother Rebecca was called home from work so she could take him to school.
Mr Sibley said that children who forgot their bus passes on occasion could be made vulnerable by the policy if they were unable to get to school.
"I think maybe the coach companies should have a list of children who have bus passes themselves," he said.
"I understand it has happened to quite a few children and if this was a younger girl, there could have been serious consequences."
A spokesman for Mid Devon Coaches, which is based in Bow, said: "Our contract states that we have to abide by the No Pass, No Travel policy, as set out by Devon County Council."
A council spokesman said it was a parental responsibility to ensure children got to and from the bus stop and to make sure the child knew what to do in the event that they could not travel to school, whether this was due to bad weather, breakdown or accident, or if they had forgotten their pass.
He said: "We are gradually introducing a No pass, No Travel policy across all the secondary school bus network.
"It follows a number of incidents where children not entitled to free transport were found to be travelling which led, in some cases, to eligible pupils being unable to travel as the vehicle was already full.
"Parents and children have been informed in advance of the start date of the policy with an individual letter to each parent, posters displayed around schools, flyers handed out by council staff on buses explaining the new system and checking passes.
"We have worked closely with schools and transport companies to ensure everybody is aware that a pass must be carried on every occasion."