The Wokingham Paper

School run fears after Leopard changes its spots

the leopard in service
The distinctive leopard bus connects Reading and Wokingham. Picture: Reading Buses

PARENTS and bus bosses are heading for a collision over plans to alter timetables at Bohunt School.

There are fears a cut in services and change of route will leave some pupils with a two-mile walk along a busy road.

The head of the Arborfield school, Ben Godber, described the changes as “significant” and criticised both Reading Buses and Wokingham Borough Council for their lack of response.

In a letter to parents and guardians, he said to state the school was unhappy “would be a considerable understatement.” He added that major roadworks scheduled for the start of the September term would cause further concerns.

“As things stand, the Leopard 3 service will still run but it will now no longer stop at the school site,” the letter states.

“The nearest suitable stop being at Hogwood Park. Sheerlands Road continues as a stop but there have been no highways adjustments to improve the accessibility to this and Reading Buses view it as an inappropriate point for students to aim for.

“Reading Buses plan to introduce two new school services called the 92 and 93. Each of which will still bring students directly to the site following the old Leopard 3 route (the 92 also encompassing Eversley in Hampshire) but there will be no other morning service before or

after this which stops directly at the school.

“Similarly after school at 4.30pm Monday to Thursday and 2.50pm on Friday these buses will collect from the school site and do return journeys but before and after this time, students will have to walk to Hogwood Park to catch the Leopard 3. Therefore any child who relies on Reading Buses for transport will have to walk to Hogwood Park if either the 92/93 is full. We have feedback that we anticipate there to be more users than the capacity of the buses.”

Mr Godber stressed the school had emphasised the changes were “ill-considered and made with far too short a notice period.”

He had walked the pedestrian route to Hogwood from Bohunt and advised both Reading Buses and the council  There were also concerns that major roadworks planned in September when the schools return, would lead to considerable disruption of services.

In a statement, Reading buses said it was “delighted to be making some significant improvements to the way we run the various services we provide for local schools in the area for 2019-20, making them easier to use and understand.”

It added: “The new academic year sees Bohunt School grow to its full capacity and this, combined with the non-standard timing of the school day, means that the leopard 3 service will no longer divert into the school. 

“We are introducing two new, dedicated, services (numbered 92 and 93) to/from the school grounds, serving the most popular parts of the leopard 3 route and several new areas.”

The statement added: “Students travelling from Reading can use Leopard 3 – using bus stops near Hogwood Industrial Estate and walk along the recently opened safe walking route to/from the school. The leopard 3b to/from Bracknell is also within walking distance in the same way.

Unfortunately, there aren’t enough students travelling from these areas to justify a separate service.

“We understand that substantial roadworks are being planned for September, which will affect our ability to serve Hogwood Industrial Estate. These works are outside of our control, and further information will be provided as soon things are confirmed.”

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