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Stagecoach reinstate after-school bus for school children living in Kingsdown

By Eleanor Perkins

Outrage from parents regarding the withdrawal of a key after-school bus service has led Stagecoach to go back on its decision.

Parents living in Kingsdown were furious after the bus firm axed its 82A from Walmer as part of its new timetable, which was introduced on Sunday.

It meant more than 30 children from schools in Dover and Sandwich were left stranded miles from their homes.

Stagecoach is extending the times when it will accept a young person's Freedom Pass.
Stagecoach is extending the times when it will accept a young person's Freedom Pass.

But today, after various complaints, the company has announced it will be re-instating an afternoon service to Kingsdown in the form of the 80B.

Stagecoach communications officer Matthew Maytum said: “Following discussions with the schools we’ve looked at how we can feasibly adjust the existing complement of buses in the area to accommodate an extension to Kingsdown in the afternoons.

“We’ve also needed to look at how we can cater for additional numbers of students in the area who are travelling to and from school by bus this year.

“From today we will run an additional bus through to Kingsdown arriving at Cliffe Road at 4.26pm.

“This bus will be numbered route 80B and will serve St Margaret’s, Walmer and Kingsdown.

“Students that require Kingsdown will need to ensure that they use this bus which will start from Northbourne Avenue (for Astor College and Dover Grammar School for Boys) at 3.40pm and serve Park Avenue at 3.51pm (for Dover Grammar School for Girls).

“It will run directly into Walmer along Dover Road serving the stop at The Thompson Bell at 4.19pm. It will then turn right into Granville Road and run directly to Kingsdown along Kingsdown Road.

“This extra bus will also help ensure there is sufficient capacity overall to cater for an increase in the number of students travelling by bus this year.

“Students who require Deal and Sandown must ensure that they continue to use a route 80A bus.”

“This is fantastic news and I’m really pleased that Stagecoach has taken on board the many complaints from the huge number of concerned families.” - parent Lisa Dennison

Lisa Dennison, of Alexandra Road, has two children who rely on the service - Maisie, 14, who attends Dover Grammar School for Girls and Charlie, 11, who has just started at Sir Roger Manwood’s in Sandwich.

She has welcomed the news after forking out £280 each for their annual travel passes.

She said: “This is fantastic news and I’m really pleased that Stagecoach has taken on board the many complaints from the huge number of concerned families.”

Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke is also pleased.

He said: “I have been urging Stagecoach to reverse this latest blunder – so their U-turn is welcome.

“It was unacceptable to remove this service and leave schoolchildren in the lurch. Parents were rightly concerned.

“I’m glad Stagecoach have seen sense here and acted swiftly. They should now look again at changes to other services they have rushed through.”

Stagecoach had initially said its decision to wipe the service was because the unpredictable traffic out of Dover meant that the arrival times of buses from Dover schools could not always be guaranteed.

Consequently the 82A bus was often delayed, causing knock-on effects to subsequent services in the area.

Over the past couple of days parents in the village have been forced to rally together.

Mrs Dennison added: “All the parents were great and were really rallying around to lift share but we couldn’t have carried on doing that every day.

“Our children couldn’t get home safely or timely.

"We needed to get Kingsdown back on the map again.”

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