Esther McVey and Cllr Phil Marshall discuss buses in Comberbach

AN MP is urging a bus company to improve its services to ensure young people can get to and from school and college on time – and told council chiefs they need to support their residents.

Tatton MP Esther McVey has written to Warrington Bus Company (WBC) calling for action over the reliability of the CAT 9 bus which students from Leftwich School and Sir John Deane College rely on.

Ms McVey was invited by parents to a meeting in Comberbach to discuss the problem, chaired by Councillor Phil Marshall. A representative from the bus company was due to attend but cancelled shortly before the meeting.

Ms McVey said: “Hearing from parents and residents at the meeting it is clear the reliability of the service is not up to scratch.  Whilst accepting that the bus company can’t help road works disrupting a route, they can make sure they have contingency plans and they can certainly ensure that they have buses that don’t break down. I have written to the bus company demanding answers and also asked for an explanation as to why no one could come to the meeting. If they valued their customers I would expect any company to send a representative. Cheshire West commission this service with WBC and they are not meeting their obligation and I will be contacting them this week.”

The parents and pupils have developed innovative ways to ensure they get to school on time if the bus does not turn up. Unlike other areas there is no app that can locate the bus so students on different parts of the route keep in contact with each other and inform how late the bus is running. The parents also have a group message chat where they decide who will take which children to school if needed.

Ms McVey added: “I am disappointed that Warrington Borough Council, who own the bus company, have allowed this situation to continue for months. They must understand the need for children to have safe, reliable transport to school. If Cheshire West, as the authority where these children live, feel that is an issue then they need to speak out. If there is a funding issue, though there is no indication that is the case,  I will happily take this on and push for more funding from Government.”

Cllr Marshall will also speak to Cheshire West Council about the safety of the village stop which is little more than a verge with no lights or shelter but instead littered with broken glass.

Members of the Comberbach Parish Council and Great Budworth residents also attended the meeting to speak about their problems with buses and measures put in place to try to solve the issues.  

The bus is not a school bus but a public bus but has the timetable was adapted to accommodate the students.

Ms McVey added: “We need to get this route resolved and then have a bigger discussion about the value of buses in rural villages. I want people to be able to live in the villages they want to and not be force to move out of a particular area when they are older and maybe stop driving. We need to have decent bus services to ensure people can access the facilities they want and need without having to rely on a car.”