Mother who paid £360 for daughter's bus pass hits out at 'unacceptable' service and safety fears
Copyright: Archant 2019
A mother who paid more than £300 for a bus pass for her daughter feels she is being failed by the operator.
Holly Hutt, a student at Framingham Earl High School, has a First bus pass which she uses to catch a public bus service to and from school.
But her mother Suzanne Chaplin, who paid £360 for the annual pass, has concerns about the service.
She said Holly, 16, sometimes cannot get on the bus at all as it is too crowded and that she often misses her stop as she can’t get off the packed bus – meaning she has to wait for a connection in Norwich city centre to get home to Lakenham.
“Just before 3pm there is carnage at the bus stop because there are hundreds of children trying to get on these buses,” she said.
“It is quite late at night by the time she gets home and twice she has been waiting in the city for her other bus to come and she has been verbally and physically attacked by drunk men. They have cuddled her, asked her to go home with them, which is why she does not want to go into the city and catch a second bus.
“She is now quite upset and scared about waiting in the city for a bus.”
Ms Chaplin, 50, first contacted First in September to say she thought the situation was “unacceptable”.
“First suggested that if she got on the bus last she would be able to be first off. But we tried that, she was about to get on the bus but then the doors closed,” she said.
“They also said the teachers could organise who gets on what bus, but it is not the school’s responsibility.
“First said what do you want us to do, and I said all I want is for my daughter to get home from school safely. This girl is having a very long day and spending a lot of time on buses. I don’t think they really appreciate that.”
First was contracted at the start of the year to carry Framingham Early High pupils from Trowse on its commercial services.
Steve Wickers, managing director of First Eastern Counties, said the company had made arrangements to operate a larger vehicle on the main afternoon bus route past Framingham Earl High as it had become “busier than originally anticipated” and had also highlighted “alternative journey options” for pupils who needed to travel into the city centre, rather than carrying on to Trowse.
He added: “We are also putting plans in place to provide further additional capacity on a permanent basis for passengers travelling between Poringland and the city centre at this time of day from our next timetable change, the date of which we will advise the school in good time for this to be communicated to parents and pupils.”