Efforts are being made to encourage children to walk to school, thus reducing bus use. CEC is planning to review and possibly ax some school bus routes to boost safe walking routes.
On Monday, the Children and Families Committee has discussed the issue of school transport. It plans to return the functions of the council’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Transportation Services Solutions, to Cheshire East Council.
Janet Clowes, Conservative group leader, stated: “I would like to know where we stood with school walking routes.
Indeed, I am concerned about my constituents, so I would like to get rid of school buses from certain parts of my ward in exchange for safe walking routes to school.”
Mr Bayley, director of the council’s services for education infrastructure and outcomes, responded: “I agree with you that safer walking routes need to be explored, and it is part of the active transportation plan we should consider.
“Our focus is very much on the development and updating of school travel plans, which should include bikeability schemes including walking.”
Councillor Clowes has told the Local Democracy Reporting Service following the meeting, and she was referring to the Wychwood to Weston route in her ward.
She said the route would need to be assessed for safety, and the right-of-way would be redirected.
“It was part of the original draft, but there was never any action taken on it.”
In the report, the committee was also informed that restrictions on Covid-19 had been lifted. There were no longer any requirements for social distancing on school buses and the extra funds, making it possible for the council to reduce the number of students on school buses.
Cllr George Hayes questioned whether the rise in Covid cases was having a knock-on effect in the borough, such as increased anxiety or school refusals. Since the shadow bus and alternative modes of transportation have already been withdrawn, this support is no longer available.
Mr Bayley stated that there had not, to date, been any requirement for more buses in areas affected by outbreaks. “In areas with a higher rate, parents are taking it upon themselves to transport children to avoid transportation challenges, and that is commendable,” he added. However, dropping off brought in other pressures, he said.