Kingston Maurward principal Luke Rake has assured parents that new bus routes to the college are ‘better and safer’ following problems faced at the start of term.

Some college students and pupils of Dorset Studio School were unable to attend classes following a change in the provider operating the bus for the new academic year.

It had been reported that buses were heavily delayed and bus routes were changed with short notice given to parents.

A letter sent to all parents of affected students said that on Wednesday, September 6, all 12 bus routes were delayed, with many being ‘delayed significantly.’

Mr Rake admitted that it had been a 'challenging couple of weeks' following ‘teething problems’ with the new transport provider, Kura.

He said: “The college offers a total of 157 different stops, servicing 750 students to best fit everyone and to make sure everyone can access the bespoke service.

"The college has also had to deal with a rise of around 10 per cent intake of students, as an extra 50 pupils enrolled in the college this year from last.”

Working with the Studio School has provided added challenges to the service for the bus company, with another 375 students put into its system in a short space of time, meaning there were further logistics to deal with.

Mr Rake said that Kura faced problems with the 703 bus route from Kinson due to difficulties the company faced with a sub-contractor, which has now been fixed after Kura sourced buses from London and Wales.

Following the Echo’s previous report, one mother who wishes to remain anonymous, wrote in to say that she lost faith in Kura after her daughter was refused entry on a bus after years of previously getting on at that stop, and when she called the company, she said she was told to ‘drive her child in or look for a new school.’

Mr Rake went on to say that the streamlined routes, whilst different, provide new stops that are better and safer following Kura’s risk assessment of each different stop. 

However, Mr Rake said that this means that not every student can expect the same level of service than previous years: “We believe, with Kura, that all parents and students should have safe access to get to school. Unfortunately, due to how rural the area is, and the rural intake we see, we simply cannot provide doorstep to doorstep services.”

It was also reported that some of the buses were unsafe after one had broken down within the first few days of service, but the principal denied this, saying: “Kura has assured us that the buses meet the legislative requirements. The buses are newer and better.”

Tom Hallam, Deputy Principal said: “Having this bespoke bus service puts on a cost, and despite levels of inflation rising, we reduced the price of transport overall.

“I’ve heard students at enrolment speak more positively about the bus timings being much better for students as they don’t face as early a start, and it is quicker and more direct,” he added.

Mr Rake revealed that the college subsidises the bus service to its students by utilising a bursary fund, putting in almost £100k every year to do so.

Mr Rake warned that routes could be changed every year, depending on where the students are coming from: “The routes may have to change every year regrettably, and the reality could be that a bus stop close to home may not be available.”

Kura has been approached by the Echo for comment.