Parents in a north-east town are facing uncertainty over school transport today after the council pulled the plug on busy bus service.
Before the summer break, parents and carers in Turriff were told that afternoon transport would no longer be offered from Markethill Primary School.
Aberdeenshire Council had previously subsidised the service for several years at marginal cost but it has been scrapped following the latest tender process.
As a results, parents and carers will have to make alternative arrangements for pupils at the overcrowded primary school today.
The local authority’s head of transport, Ewan Wallace, said: The afternoon route was previously coordinated with a route to Turriff Academy but due to the finishing times at the two schools, this is no longer operationally possible.
“To include the route in the afternoon would now incur a significant additional cost to a service that is already subsidised by the council.”
Mr Wallace said he appreciated the impact the move would have on the school community, and offered to help any concerned parents.
The morning service, run by Stagecoach Bluebird, will continue on a “commercial basis”.
Last night Turriff councillor Sandy Duncan, who has been a vocal supporter for a replacement service to the existing school, said: “The bus service change was due to the fact the academy and primary school changes their finishing times, so they didn’t fit in with the bus times.
“To lay on another bus would have been too much of an expense for the council, who already provide costly services across Aberdeenshire.”
The decision to drop the Turriff service follows a similar and controversial decision to axe a bus service to two primary schools in Ellon. Furious parents have vowed to fight the move all the way to Holyrood and a petition to reinstate the route has attracted hundreds of signatures.
Earlier this year councillors capped the pupil roll at Markethill at 469. The school is already nearly 100 pupils over its 360 capacity, and plans for a long-overdue replacement have been agreed.