Bus monitor safety fears
Staff lose out in OLSP contract change
Childrens’ safety could be in jeopardy if a firm set to take over school runs fail to put monitors on all routes, say attendants who deal with bother on the buses.
Dumbarton-based McColl’s Coaches has lost contracts running to the new Our Lady and St Patrick’s High in Bellsmyre when it opens later this month.
Ayrshire-based firm Marbill tabled the successful bid and will take on nine contracts but it is unclear if they will employ bus monitors on all of the services.
The attendants deal with any disorder that breaks out on the buses, check bus passes and address any safety issues during journeys.
If Marbill run coaches on the local routes rather than doubledecker vehicles there is no contractual obligation to have an attendant on the bus.
Samantha Henderson, who has been a monitor with McColl’s for the last two years, said roles like hers are vital.
She added: “The kids trust you and know that they can come to you if there’s a problem.
“How is the driver going to deal with all the kids on their own?”
Marbill told us this week that they are still in talks with McColl’s over the transfer of the contract but it is understood that the majority of attendants currently in post locally will not be offered employment with the firm.
When asked if monitors would be ditched from the buses once Marbill takes on the routes, a spokeswoman said: “That’s not the case at present. We are still in talks with McColl’s.”
Samantha, who said she has not been offered a job with Marbill, stressed how important the role of bus monitors is, particularly following the bus crash in August which left pupils having to clamber to safety.
More than 20 pupils received hospital treatment following the crash.
She said: “If it wasn’t for the monitor a lot of the kids wouldn’t have got back on the buses for days after it.
“The bus driver and the monitor were absolutely superb that day.
“The monitor herself ended up with broken ribs but the kids knew they were safe when they saw the same driver and the same monitor on the bus afterwards.
“Having a monitor on any bus means the driver’s concentration can be 100 percent on the road, which it has to be.”
McColl’s currently has bus monitors on every school bus route it runs and has done so for over 40 years.
West Dunbartonshire Council said bus attendants will continue to be in place on double deckers after the contracts switch to Marbill.
A spokeswoman added: “In addition we have stipulated that seat belts must be provided on all vehicles to further enhance the safety of pupils on our school transport.”
Bus stopped McColls lost the OLSP contract