School Transport in Adverse Weather
During periods of adverse weather some or all home-to-school transport services may not operate, or alternatively operate a curtailed service depending upon local road conditions.
Decisions to cancel or amend school transport services are taken in the interests of the safety and welfare of pupils, school transport drivers and other road users. These decisions are taken by operators in liaison with schools, as the parties most aware of local weather and road conditions.
Cancellation of services
Any decision to cancel or amend the operation of some or all school transport services to an education establishment, will be made by the operator following consultation with the head teacher or his/her depute and will have regard to the prevailing and forecast weather and road conditions along with any advice from Grampian Police and/or any other appropriate agency.
In the event of the journey to school being cancelled by the operator on the grounds of adverse weather conditions, the operator will not be responsible for conveying pupils home in the afternoon. In such circumstances, parents of pupils who normally travel on school transport are asked not to bring their children to school themselves.
Should parents ignore this advice and, at their own risk, choose to bring their children to school the parents then become responsible for conveying their children home again at the end of the school day, or earlier, if it becomes necessary to send all pupils home and close the school due to worsening weather conditions.
There may also be relevant announcements on local radio.
Information will normally be posted on the council’s school closure web pages and Schools Information Line, before 7am in the morning. However, it is not always possible to alert parents of service cancellations or route variations within this timescale, depending upon developing localised weather conditions. As such pupils should wait no longer than 20 minutes at the designated pick-up point, and, if no school transport vehicle arrives, then return home or follow the instructions given by their parent or carer regarding the situation.
It is clearly important that parents/guardians retain a means of communication with their children should the school transport service not operate, and it must be stressed that the responsibility for the safety and welfare of children prior to boarding the school transport service remains with the parent or carer.
Early closure of schools
Should weather conditions deteriorate significantly during the course of the school day, the head teacher or their deputy may decide to close the school to all pupils or to those who travel by school transport. In such circumstances, operators are required to provide the necessary vehicles to transport the pupils home at the earliest opportunity.
Winter treatment of school transport routes
Winter maintenance of school transport routes is primarily dependant upon the priority category of the various roads used. As school transport services travel on roads throughout Aberdeenshire, there is no guarantee that winter maintenance treatment will be possible in the case of individual school transport services. Priority 1 routes include A class roads and other busy roads linking communities. Gritting and snow clearing on all other roads can only commence once these primary routes have been treated. The A90 and A96 Trunk roads are maintained by Bear Scotland on behalf of Transport Scotland.
Whilst double-deck vehicles are ordinarily no more susceptible to adverse weather conditions than other categories of school transport vehicles, forecast or actual high winds may necessitate the withdrawal from service of such vehicles and the substitution of one or more single deck vehicles. Again the prime responsibility for such decisions lies with the operator.
Where connecting transport arrangements have been put in place it is the responsibility of the operator of both the connecting and mainline service to advise the other should their element of the service require to be withdrawn or amended. Should either vehicle be delayed or fail to reach the connecting point at no time should a pupil be allowed to leave the vehicle and be left unattended.
Public transport buses
Some school pupils and college students travel to their educational establishment on season tickets by means of the public transport network. Details of disruptions to Stagecoach Bluebird local bus services during periods of adverse weather are available through their ‘live service information line’ on 01224 597587.