The news that the Bright Bus service will come to an end in a few weeks has startled plenty of parents who rely on their green buses.
It’s pleasing to hear that all interested parties are already involved in discussions to ensure this essential service will continue. I know some schools are approaching new service providers themselves.
It’s no exaggeration to say that thousands of Sheffield school children rely completely on this service. Some schools are in semi-rural locations where public transport is inadequate to get students there, while others have catchment areas so large that school buses are a must.
The only acceptable solution is that a replacement service takes the place of Bright Bus in time for the first school day of the new academic year in September.
But it’s not just about a replacement transport operator – this is an opportunity to improve the service our young people experience in a morning on their way to school.
To say the fleet of over 50 green buses have seen better days is an understatement. There are well-told tales of buses struggling up the city’s hills, spluttering to reach the summit and even being overtaken by cyclists on particularly tough climbs.
On some routes, it’s like being in the story of The Little Engine That Could – the book where a train does his very best to get up a steep hill. “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”
And these buses may be green in colour, but they are certainly not environmentally friendly.
It’s high time the school buses of Sheffield were brought up to date and the transition from one operator to another seems an ideal time to negotiate this. It’s a big ask to expect this to happen all at once, but any new operator should be required to bring in some new stock and commit to updating older vehicles in the fleet during the coming years.
If these antiquated buses were used to get adults to work in the city, there would be uproar. We wouldn’t tolerate it. Quite rightly, bus operators have tried to tempt people back onto public transport with newer, cleaner buses, complete with wi-fi.
Our children are customers, too, and they are worthy of the same standard of service given to the city’s adults.