Children left without transport after firm shuts

5:28am Thursday 13th September 2007

By Andy Whelan

Parents have been left out of pocket after buying tickets for a school bus company which has shut overnight.

Up to 300 youngsters in Horsham have had to find alternative transport to get to school after Goring-based Palaeobus ceased trading.

There is no longer a bus service to Millais Secondary School in Depot Road, The Forest School in Comptons Lane and Tanbridge House School in Farthings Hill.

Many families had forked out up to £60 at the beginning of the month on season tickets for their children which would take them to school during the term.

The children affected live within three miles of their school and do not qualify for transport funded by West Sussex County Council.

But the council has stepped in to help them and hopes to have a replacement service up and running by the end of the week.

It has also taken legal advice to help parents recoup their cash.

Tex Pemberton, the council's cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "We have 200 to 300 children who are not getting to school by bus.

"I'm sure most are going to school but some might not be.

"I have asked our legal experts to look into the situation regarding parents who might have purchased season tickets for the commercial routes.

"We will be dong everything we can to help those parents who have bought a season ticket and at this moment are feeling distinctly out of pocket."

The council had school bus contracts with Palaeobus in Horsham and Steyning but these have now been taken over by other operators.

Any child that lives further then three miles from their school can get free transport to their classes from the council.

This meant that around 100 children entitled to free school transport continued to receive an uninterrupted service.

Coun Pemberton said: "It is the commercial routes that were being run by the company without any subsidy from the county council that are giving cause for concern.

"This is not only having an impact on school journeys.

"The buses are also used by the public for a variety of travel needs.

"We are looking at various options and talking to other bus companies about these routes."

Palaeobus also operated the commercial Service Eight between Worthing and Ferring and this has already been taken over by Compass Travel.

The service does not involve any school transport.

The Argus repeatedly tried to contact Palaeobus at its Goring base last night but its phone number was not working.

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