Overcrowded bus from Swindon to Cirencester College sparks safety fears

A COLLEGE bus is so overcrowded that students are left fearing for their safety, a mum has claimed.

Lianne Hughes believes her son Charlie is in danger on the Stagecoach-run C9 service, which leaves Cricklade Road in north Swindon at 8.18am for Cirencester College.

“Every morning he uses the college bus which is £650 for the year,” she explained.

“The bus is so rammed that students are sat on the floors and stairs leading to the upstairs, this is absolutely disgusting and a safety hazard.

“It’s been like that since September. Every morning there are children sat on stairs, stood upstairs, stood downstairs, sat on the floor.

“They go on the A419, which isn’t the safest of roads. If there was an accident, there’d be panic and a stampede.

“I’m also not sure how many students they’re allowed on the bus at any one time, but it just can’t be safe to have that many all stood up and sat everywhere.”

Charlie studies uniformed public services, which involves marching and other physical activity. He described the toll the bus journey is taking on him, having to stand up most of the time and not knowing if he’ll arrive or get home on time. 

“It’s the same every morning, students having to cram on or risk not getting to college on time,” he said. “They sit on the stairs, stand from front to back, sometimes they sit on the floor in the aisle because it’s not a quick journey.

“Last week one of the buses on the way home left at 4pm and I didn’t get home until 6.30pm. This was because another bus from the college was cancelled so students from other routes had to get on our bus, making the whole journey much longer.

“There are supposed to be extra buses but I don’t see them and sometimes buses just don’t turn up. It’s happened to me twice

“It’s extremely stressful. Every time I’m late to college the work that I miss becomes homework, but because I’m getting home late I’m overloaded with work.”

The Adver was shown a video that showed students stood up from the back to the front of the bus with very little room for anyone to move. There were also students sat all the way up the stairs.

The bus company says it is dealing with busier demand than usual but is working with the college to ensure all students have a seat. 

Stagecoach West managing director Rachel Geliamassi said: “At Stagecoach West, we are proud to serve the community and prioritise the safety and comfort of all of our passengers, including students using our services. 

“We’ve been working closely with the team at Cirencester College to adjust routes and times to ensure all students get a seat for their journey. 

“This year several services have been busier than originally expected, but we’ve made a number of changes to add seats on the busiest corridors. 

“Students from Swindon town centre and along Cricklade Road now have a choice of two services direct to college (C8 and C9) and we’re encouraging use of both buses to help carry everyone.  

“There are occasionally instances where high volumes of traffic mean that our services run slightly behind schedule. 

“We appreciate this can be frustrating, but our team does everything within their control to ensure that our services run on time. 

“We’re continuing to monitor services each week and are grateful for all feedback and patience from students during this busy start to term.”

Karen Fraser, vice principal (student experience and external relations) for Cirencester College added: “The safety and the comfort of our students is paramount.  

“We have been working closely with Stagecoach to monitor students travelling across the area to ensure that every student who wants one, has a seat on a bus.  

“To this end Stagecoach has increased the number of buses coming into the college from Cheltenham, Gloucester, Stroud and Swindon. 

“This has alleviated any initial problems, nonetheless we apologise to any students who have been inconvenienced in the first few weeks of term.”

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