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Daily Record
Daily Record
Peter Davidson

Binmen to take Scots kids to school amid shortage of bus drivers

Bin lorry drivers are being redeployed to drive pupils to school after a problem with bus contracts left more than 1,000 children without transport.

Around 1,400 pupils in North Lanarkshire were affected last week after Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) was unable to put in place a number of school bus contracts in time for the start of term.

The council is now redeploying drivers who normally drive children with additional support needs (ASN), who will instead drive 10 buses which the council has secured to take children to school.

Bin lorry drivers from the waste fleet will be redeployed to drive the ASN children to their place of learning. As a result the council is temporarily suspending blue bin collections.

North Lanarkshire Council said: "While work has been carried out to reduce the number of school bus routes affected, many remain unserviced. The council has a legal duty to transport children who are eligible to school.

"To assist Strathclyde Passenger Transport (SPT), who have sourced some additional buses but have been unable to engage drivers, some of our appropriately trained and qualified drivers will be required to drive buses for school transport.

"While we will seek to engage replacement drivers as quickly as possible, this means that we have taken the difficult decision to suspend collection of blue paper and card bins for the next three weeks, until Monday September 12."

It added: "We apologise for the inconvenience this temporary suspension of service will cause."

The council said that an escort with protecting vulnerable groups (PVG) approval will be on every bus. It said fewer than 180 pupils will be affected by transport issues this week and said it is continuing to work with SPT to resolve the issue. SPT apologised for the situation.

It said it has seen an unprecedented volume of contract renewals this year, given short-term contracts were put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic.

SPT said: "While we have ensured contracts for the majority of councils on time and ahead of the new school year beginning, a number of bus operators have - at short notice - now declined a number of approved and awarded contracts in North and South Lanarkshire.

"We apologise to all parents, pupils and schools affected. Due to the short notice given by operators, we have not been able to put in place alternative arrangements.

"Our schools' team is working hard to find transport on a temporary emergency basis for pupils affected."

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