Mansfield college defends plans to axe student bus service amid 'real concerns'

A Mansfield college has defended plans to axe its student bus service, as parents and councillors fear the “detrimental impact” it will have.
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West Nottinghamshire College will cease to offer its bespoke bus service, which ferries pupils from across Mansfield and Ashfield to the college’s Derby Road campus in Mansfield, from the beginning of the new term in September.

This means pupils will be forced to rely on other transport, including lifts or public buses, in order to attend college.

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The move has sparked controversy, with Coun Jason Zadrozny, Ashfield Council leader, seeking a meeting with college bosses after being “inundated with phone calls from concerned parents”.

The West Nottinghamshire College bus will no longer run from September.The West Nottinghamshire College bus will no longer run from September.
The West Nottinghamshire College bus will no longer run from September.

He said: “In light of the current shortages of bus drivers and mechanical issues, forcing students to use public buses will have a detrimental impact.

“How will the college manage students turning up two hours late due to their bus not turning up?”

Coun Rachel Madden, Nottinghamshire Council member for Kirkby South, said: “A number of parents have been in touch regarding the decision of the college to stop their buses.

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“They are rightly worried about the impact on their education. We will be meeting college bosses next week as we have real concerns about young people's education being impacted.”

In the meantime, the college has reassured parents students who need to catch a bus to college will be able to do so by public transport at a subsidised cost.

Students who receive financial support will also continue to travel free of charge.

Andrew Cropley, college principal and chief executive, said: “From August 24, we will introduce a single-ticket solution in the form of the West Notts College Travel Pass that will give students huge flexibility.

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“The pass will provide unlimited travel across all of Nottinghamshire and parts of Derbyshire, seven-days-per-week, and at all times of the day.”

The college said the pass is “excellent value for money” and will offer a greater range of options.

Mr Cropley said: “While we recognise some journey times to college may take longer, no student will need to catch more than two buses, and some will catch just one.

“Stagecoach and Trentbarton operate on all routes covered by our existing bus service and we will enhance these with additional buses between Mansfield and Sutton bus stations and our campuses at busy times.

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“In addition, further outlying towns and villages will be part of our new offer, and there will be more pick-up and drop-off points in areas where our current buses have only a single pick-up location.”

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The education provider said the existing service is being axed due to the rising number of students attending the college.

Mr Cropley said: “As things stood, the college would have needed to almost double the number of buses it provides, which would have left us no choice other than to pass on much higher travel costs to our students.

“We see this move as providing students with continued access to college while offering them valuable life skills by gaining confidence in using public transport as they prepare for employment.

“We are confident our bus company partners have the capacity to meet the needs of every student and provide a reliable service.”