Published: 06:00, 13 September 2019
Worried parents say their children are being left stranded because buses home from school are too crowded to board.
Campaigner Gary Edwards is calling for Stagecoach to introduce an extra bus to ensure those unable to get onto the 89 just after 3.35pm get home before 5pm.
The 38-year-old said: “Due to its popularity it has now become impossible for the majority of kids to actually get on it.
“There were large groups of children left behind last week because the 3.35pm bus is already full by the time it reaches the top end of New Dover Road.
“There need to be more buses. Stagecoach needs to realise that they can’t just keep providing the same number of buses year on year without appreciating there will be more children.”
Mr Edwards says his children – 14-year-old Brooke and Paige, 11 – have both struggled to secure places on the bus.
"To have to pay that and not even be able to get on the bus is ridiculous....” Mr Gary Edwards
As a result, they returned to their Aylesham home last week at 5pm – an hour-and-a-half after school finishes.
“The next bus leaves the bus station at 4.10pm, so it picks up at New Dover Road at about 4.30pm,” Mr Edwards explained.
“It’s exhausting for them. They’re up early in the morning, have a long day at school and if they get home at 5pm, it means it’s pretty full-on. We’re paying a lot of money for our children – it’s £350 for a bus pass. To have to pay that and not even be able to get on the bus is ridiculous.”
Another parent says her daughter was left “traumatised” after her daughter was unable to take the 89 from St Anselm’s last Wednesday.
Several others have contacted KentOnline to say the buses are being “overloaded” with schoolchildren.
One, who wished to remain anonymous, added: “They have been so dangerously full that children have been sat up against the windscreen.
“I was speaking to another mum whose daughter was left at the bus stop on her own. It’s all right now, but when it gets dark and cold it’ll be an issue.”
A Stagecoach spokesman says the company has sent out a team to monitor the situation.
“Last year we enhanced the afternoon service,” he said. “There are now two double-decker buses returning to Aylesham, both call into the school bus lay-by.”
“We are aware of a complaint that on one occasion last week the first bus was full which meant that some children had to wait for the second bus to get them home.”
More by this authorJack Dyson