COUNCIL chiefs have assured families of youngsters across south Warwickshire reliant on The Green Bus Service to get to school that an alternative service will be found for those eligible for free transport.
Warwickshire County Council admitted, however, that those who pay for the bus may have to make their own alternative arrangements.
Parents were informed on Saturday (August 26) that The Green Bus, which was scheduled to transport young people to schools in and around Alcester and Stratford areas when they reopen next week, had withdrawn the service due to untenable financial pressures.
Hundreds of pupils and their families were left panicking about how they would get to school.
The Green Bus Service said it had been close to finding a replacement provider but they had withdrawn from the deal last Thursday August 24.
Parents who had paid for the upcoming school year would be refunded, they added.
In the letter to parents, chief executive Ian Mack said the decision had been made because the costs of providing the service now exceeded the income they received.
He explained he had had to let staff go which was was “one of the most difficult things I have done” and continued: “Sadly, it is simply unsustainable for small operators to survive in the rapidly-declining marketplace for local bus services.”
Warwickshire County Council said it was notified of Green Bus’ decision to withdraw the service after the weekend.
Council officers have since been working with transport providers to ensure that alternative means of transport will be available for all school children whom the council is obligated to provide free transport for.
They are also in discussions with providers to see what solutions, if any, can be found for all young people who don’t receive free school transport.
WCC transport spokesperson Coun Jan Matecki said: “The county council has been working flat out since we received information that the bus service was to be withdrawn to ensure that there will be transport available for all young people eligible for free school transport. We are working with services to ensure that this will be in place and liaising fully with families and the affected schools and colleges, to keep them updated.
“We fully understand the distress this has caused for all families affected to find this out at such a late stage and we are doing all we can to mitigate the situation with the limited powers we have to support. However, beyond the pupils whom we have a responsibility for, no further reassurances can be given at this time as it is a commercial decision for any bus company to take on the service route.”
The company operated services in Warwickshire, south Birmingham, Longbridge, Rubery and Catshill in Worcestershire.
Parents have been rallying around trying to set up alternative ways of getting their children to school – whether this be a new bus provider, taxis or lift sharing, while some schools, including Alcester Grammar School, have pledged to assist in finding an alternative solution before the start of the new term.