PARENTS in Mossbank have issued a renewed appeal for the restoration of a bus service to transport children home from school during the winter.
A new petition has attracted over 250 signatures in recent weeks calling for a 3.20pm bus service to be reinstated so children do not have to walk the 1.5 mile distance in the dark and often poor weather conditions.
The matter had previous been considered by Shetland’s transport partnership ZetTrans back in April 2019 when chairman Ryan Thomson said the committee had “concluded that a dedicated service could not be installed due to cost implications”.
Petition organiser Caroline Ritchie said the council had been approached “several times” about what parents view as an “extremely dangerous” route home from the primary school to Firth presenting a “huge safety issue”.
Ritchie said she accepted the journey was below the two-mile threshold above which school transport must be provided.
But she called on the SIC to recognise that parts of the road are neither paved nor adequately lit and said it “seems like so many kids outside of Lerwick are being forgotten about”.
“We’re not looking for an all-year-round bus – just a wee feeder bus so we can get our kids home safely,” she said.
The petition states that “kids are having to walk this road in severe weather conditions in very poor lighting especially in the winter months” and “having to cross this road back and forth several times just to access the paved parts of the road”.
Thomson said that last year ZetTrans had “concluded that a dedicated service could not be installed due to cost implications” and the matter was referred to the SIC schools service.
“I plan on undertaking the journey myself this week to more fully understand the concerns of residents, and I understand there is a petition on the matter currently in circulation,” Thomson said.
“I have had correspondence with the petition organiser, and suggested once it has concluded, to present the petition to ZetTrans for consideration by the committee.”
SIC education and families committee chairman George Smith said officials had carried out a risk assessment of the walking route and concluded that it was safe.
“They are satisfied that it is a safe route to walk with young children being accompanied,” he said. “It’s really an issue as to whether ZetTrans want to reinstate it as a public service [because there is] no justification from the safety survey that was done.
“That’s not to say that it’s a pleasant walk in inclement weather like this, but that’s the process that has been gone through.”