A furious Bradford mum has hit out at a school bus company for allegedly leaving her daughter stranded.
Donna Parsons Barton, from Thornton, believed that her 13-year-old daughter, Georgia, was safely on her way to school as she arrived at work and turned off her phone.
But when Donna turned her phone back on at lunchtime, she had 24 missed calls and seven ‘hysterical’ voicemail messages from Georgia, saying she had been told to get off her school bus.
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The bus company, Travel Xpress, say their driver did not stop Georgia from boarding, simply reminded her she needed to wear a face covering, and added that they would ‘never’ remove someone from their buses.
Donna told YorkshireLive : “It was 7.30am and the school bus, Travel Xpress, always does the school run and Georgia had forgotten her mask so she asked people on the bus stop if they had spare masks and no one had a spare mask.
“So, she said to the bus driver ‘no one’s got a spare mask, I must have dropped mine’ and she said that he told her she’d have to get off the bus.”
Donna said that Georgia struggles with her confidence and did not query the bus driver’s decision, apart from explaining to him that she had no other way of getting to school.
Donna claims that the bus driver told Georgia that she would need to find alternative travel arrangements.
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“She tried to call me, but I’d already turned my phone off for my day at work, so she walked a mile to the village to buy some masks and get public transport,” Donna said.
“She’s never been on a bus by herself before, a public bus, and she’s never been to the interchange before, so she’s had to manoeuvre herself from Thornton to Lister Park.
“Someone told her what bus to get, so she had to get off at the other side of Lister Park and walk through the park to get to the next bus.
“I just couldn’t believe that a bus driver would do that to a 13-year-old child, especially when she was pleading and saying there was no way for her to get to school.”
Donna said that Georgia eventually got to school two hours late – at 10.50am – and had missed two periods of her school day.
She said: “The school didn’t know where she was for two hours either, anything could have happened to her while she was walking around Lister Park by herself.
Georgia had to walk through Lister Park to get a public bus instead of her school bus
“I’m very proud and impressed with her resilience and the fact that she got herself to school and there are some things that we’ve put in place since so that something like that won’t happen again.
“Thankfully nothing serious happened, but I’d like to think that this wouldn’t happen again.”
But a spokesperson for Travel Xpress told YorkshireLive that the bus driver did not tell Georgia she could not board the bus, and has said that they have since apologised to Donna for the misunderstanding.
The spokesperson said: “We have since viewed the CCTV footage and the driver did not remove the child from the bus and he didn’t say to her that she could not get on the bus.
“We have been operating for over 25-years and in all this time we have never removed any child, irrespective of what behaviour or issue they are causing on the vehicle.
“The driver did say to the child on the morning, as is mandatory, that everyone is to wear a face-covering on public transport and she didn’t have her face mask, so the driver reminded her that you need to have a mask or covering before getting on the bus.”
They added: “All she had to do was maybe put her jacket around her face or a scarf, or maybe just say to the driver ‘I’m sorry I haven’t got one this morning but I’ll have one this afternoon’, that’s no problem.
“I explained to the mother and I fully sympathise with her about what her child went through and I understand her frustration, but how are we expected to protect our staff?
“We haven’t removed anyone off our buses and will never remove anybody, we never have done and never will do.”
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