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Warnings over school transport amid driver shortages

Parents of children who use school transport provided by Cambridgeshire County Council are being warned there may be disruption due to a shortage of drivers.

The council’s social and education transport team (SETT), which undertakes all aspects of the day-to-day operations for transport to and from school or college, is currently experiencing unprecedented challenges securing operators for buses and taxis.

It is asking parents to be patient as it works tirelessly to minimise the impact of driver shortages on school routes due to the unprecedented crisis taking place nationally.

Currently, both the county council and Peterborough City Council are able to fulfil all transport arrangements agreed before the start of the academic year, but this could change in the coming weeks.

There are also delays for new arrangements due to a lack of bids from transport operators, many of whom are struggling through a shortage of drivers.

The councils are working on contingency plans should the problem escalate, including the potential for double runs on buses.

It is the council’s policy for transport to be provided for free for pupils travelling more than two miles to their designated primary school, or more than three miles to their designated secondary school.

Many pupils with special educational needs, and children in care, are also eligible and require additional support, so need passenger assistants when travelling. However, operators are also having difficulties in recruiting assistants.

Councillor Bryony Goodliffe, chair of Cambridgeshire’s children and young people committee, said: “I understand this is an anxious time for parents and carers and I want to reassure them we are doing everything we can to fulfil our transport duties during this unprecedented national shortage of drivers.

“I would urge everyone to be patient as we will make sure that every child is given transport to their educational setting, even if there is some disruption.”

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