Shadow over our route to school

MCHG 12-822     Sara Twyman, left, and Ashlyns pupils who have bus problems in Northchurch.
MCHG 12-822 Sara Twyman, left, and Ashlyns pupils who have bus problems in Northchurch.

The only bus service for children travelling to school in Berkhamsted from Northchurch could be scrapped if cuts continue, its owner has warned.

Little Jim’s Buses has had to cope with a 20 per cent cut to the Bus Service Operators Grant, which the government pays to help with fuel costs.

The firm’s 502 and 532 hourly routes are the only ones that take students between Northchurch and Berkhamsted’s Ashlyns School and Thomas Coram Middle School.

Owner Jim Petty said: “If there are any more cuts in the pipeline, then the route will be in danger.

“To be honest with you, I think the fares are high enough as they are – but unfortunately not high enough to break even or make much profit.”

The cost of a single child fare on his route – which takes more than 1,000 passengers a week between Northchurch and Hemel Hempstead – has gone up by 30p.

The price of a return for children has increased from £2 to £2.20.

Sara Twyman, 39, of Peter’s Place, Northchurch, got in touch with the Gazette after learning she would now have to pay almost £100 a month for her two children to travel to school.

She said: “You do not want them to be tired before they have even got there, so you are going to have parents running them around.”

She commended Jim’s Buses but said if the service is scrapped, it will make it difficult for her to drop her children off at Ashlyns School and then get to work on time.

“I know that they have got to make cuts, but I think they should target bigger places than small companies,” said the mum.

She added that in London, children under 16 get to travel for free and it’s unfair that it is not the same outside of the capital.

Mr Petty has been forced to get rid of buses and make cuts to the regularity of the route to stay afloat.

He has slashed the hours worked by his one other driver, and is driving the routes more and more himself.

> School comes up with a 
solution after County Hall transport axe – report, page 7