Disruption to School Transport services in Somerset
We are currently experiencing disruption to school transport services across several routes in the County. This is due to the ongoing shortage of bus and coach drivers in the market. This is not unique to Somerset County Council and is a countrywide issue at present, with many operators struggling to recruit and retain Public Service Vehicle (PSV) drivers. There are also similar shortages of taxi drivers in the county at present.
There are many reasons for this, including: qualified drivers leaving the industry to take up other driver roles such as Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) driving or delivery driving where wage rates are very competitive; a number of qualified drivers retiring or taking early retirement; and the lack of training undertaken during covid which has created a backlog in getting new drivers onto the road.
Our bus, coach and taxi operators are doing all they can to retain and recruit staff, but in the volatile employment market that exists at present, staffing levels can change very quickly, and operators can suddenly find themselves unable to meet their commitments and are being faced with difficult decisions affecting their businesses.
We are working closely with operators and schools to look at how we mitigate the effects of their driver shortages, both in the short term by doubling up on contracts so that two routes are operated with the same vehicle and driver to more longer-term solutions with the aim of returning reliability going forward. This work is continuing on a daily basis with the support and co-operation of our operators to restore services to normal as soon as possible. Rest assured that all options are on the table.
Our staff in Transporting Somerset are working hard to find solutions and to keep both schools and parents up to date on any changes to routes and services, some of which may occur at very short notice. We are aware that some parents have experience issues with communications and we are working to address this. There should be arrangements in all affected schools to ensure pupils are not disadvantaged by the disruptions (for example, due to lateness being recorded).
We apologise for the current disruption and assure you that we are doing all we can to restore reliability and thank you for your patience in these challenging times.
-Somerset County Council
Code of Conduct for School Transport
When travelling to and from school all normal school rules apply. Please behave in a fashion that will bring credit to the school. Any student who disregards these rules will have to make separate arrangements for journeys to and from school.
In the morning:
- Please arrive 5 minutes earlier than stated and wait sensibly on the pavement.
- Do not jostle and push to get on the bus; wait until it has stopped before moving towards it.
- Behaviour at your stop is important. At all times you are representing Crispin.
- Be polite to any members of the public.
On the bus:
- Follow instructions given to you by the driver and the bus prefect.
- Do not eat or drink on the bus. Take your rubbish home.
- Wear seat belts at all times and store belts correctly at the end of the journey.
- Make sure bags do not block aisles or exits.
- Do not distract the driver.
- Remain seated throughout the journey. Do not stand up until the bus has stopped.
- Respect each other, the coach and especially the driver.
- Be safe and do not put anyone in danger by behaving badly.
In the afternoon:
- Go straight to the buses – they leave between 3.15pm and 3.20pm.
- If you miss the bus, firstly see the teacher on duty at the front of school and then go straight to reception and ask to use the telephone to make arrangements to get home.
- Take care crossing the road when getting off the bus. Never cross until the bus has departed.
The bus service is operated by Somerset County Council and although we will try to help you with any problem in school, it is often better to contact County direct. The Senior Transport Officer is Jodene Hall who can be contacted on 0300 123 2224.
School transport is provided as follows:
|C085C||South West Coaches||Chilton Polden, Catcott, Crispin|
|C087B||South West Coaches||Cossington, Edington, Catcott, Crispin|
|C083C||South West Coaches||Stawell, Sutton Mallet, Moorlinch, Greinton, Pedwell, Crispin|
|C089E||P and V Minibuses||Frome, Shepton Mallet, West Pennard, Glastonbury|
|C506E||Taylors Coaches||Ashcott, Walton, Crispin|
|C973B||Arleen Coaches||Meare, Burtle, Shapwick, Crispin|
|C056E||South West Coaches||Butleigh, Keinton Mandeville, Barton St David, Littleton, Compton Dundon, Crispin|
|C005J||P and V Minibuses||Baltonsborough, Crispin|
Vehicle safety and driver training for school transport
All of the vehicles used to transport the children are subject to rigorous safety checks throughout the year and as part of the contract with the operators, all drivers must attend driver training seminars organised by Somerset County Council. Seat belts are installed on all contracted vehicles.
All vehicles used for school transport are subject to checks by Somerset County Council’s Vehicle Quality Control Officer at the contractors' premises and as part of a rolling programme of unannounced spot-checks that take place at schools with the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) and the Police. All public service vehicles have a more rigorous MOT than a car and are subject to an inspection regime that requires them to have documented checks at regular intervals.
Report property left on a school vehicle
If your child has left property on a school transport vehicle, please contact the operator of the transport directly to arrange collection of the property. If you are unsure of the operator or require their contact details, please contact Anne Willetts on 0300 123 2224 and she will advise you of the details.
Report a problem or incident with school transport
You can report a problem or incident with school transport to Anne Willetts at Somerset County Council:
Senior Transport Officer – Mendip
Somerset County Council
Tel: 0300 123 2224
For further details and information relating to school transport in Somerset, please visit the County website here.
Last Updated: November 2022