Furious Preston mum shares video of 'children being put at risk' on overcrowded school bus
A mum in Preston said she is 'livid' after her daughter sent her a video of her crowded school bus this morning (September 3).
Anitha Ram, an NHS keyworker from Broughton, said she was horrified when she received the video from her 13-year-old daughter, shortly after she boarded the bus to Lancaster Girls' Grammar School today.
The video appears to show children squashed together onboard a crowded bus, with some forced to stand in the aisle for the 20-mile journey due to a lack of spaces. In the footage, there does not appear to be any social distancing measures in place.
Anitha said she was 'livid' when she saw the video, and says that her daughter and other children are being 'put at risk' of catching coronavirus due to the crowded conditions.
She said: "Being an NHS key worker, I have striven to keep my family safe through the lockdown months. I am absolutely livid that the children and their families have been put at risk like this on returning to school.
"The annual school bus pass comes at a price of £956. This overcrowding is unacceptable and unsafe at normal times and even more so in this pandemic situation."
Anitha said she does not blame Lancaster Girls' Grammar School and says she has been assured that measures are in place to keep children safe during school hours.
But she has reported her concerns to Stagecoach, telling the bus company that extra buses are needed to take the children safely to school.
She said a number of concerned parents, including herself, had even considered paying for a taxi to shuttle their children to the Lancaster school from Preston, to avoid overcrowding on the bus.
But having already forked out £956 for her daughter's annual bus pass, Anitha said the onus is on Stagecoach to ensure that their services provide a COVID-secure environment.
She said: "There are extensive measures taken by the school and I am not worried about my daughter being at school. In fact, I feel reassured that the school has put in adequate preparation to maintain social distancing and safety.
"But the school is not in charge of the bus service, which is run by Stagecoach, and they should have had an idea about the number of children who would be using the service based on the bus pass sales.
"My daughter's bus pass costs nearly £1,000 a year. For this price, I think more buses are needed to ensure children are safely sat at a recommended distance, rather than squeezing them all onto the same bus. And there should be regular monitoring of their services too to make sure children are following the guidance.
"Besides the value for money argument, we are told that the coronavirus is still a threat and hasn't gone away, so this could amount to negligence and a public health disaster waiting to happen."
Anitha said her daughter had been nervous about returning to school during the ongoing pandemic and had been left further unsettled by the busy bus journey to school.
"She definitely felt very uncomfortable, that's why she sent the videos to me," said Anitha.
"She was already nervous about returning to school, especially the bus journey. The children have had several emails from the school about new rules, so we feel supported by the school itself, but her anxiety about travel remains and is likely to become worse after today's experience."
She added: "We have raised concerns about the safety onboard the school buses before, as it’s a disaster waiting to happen if the bus is in involved in an accident. Even when there was no COVID-19, overcrowding was still a concern. Unfortunately we haven’t got anywhere with Stagecoach."
You can read the response from Stagecoach and Lancaster Girls' Grammar School in the story below.