A COLLEGE and school near Dorchester are facing further difficulties with their bus provider after a driver quit mid-way through driving students home.

The incident has left parents increasingly concerned about the service, run by transport operator Kura, which has suffered 'teething problems' since it took over the contract in September.

Parents were left panicked when a school bus transporting students home from both Kingston Maurward College and the Dorset Studio School came to a standstill after its driver decided to walk out of her job halfway through the journey.

Kura has an app which offers integrated tracking technology and keeps parents updated with their child's whereabouts on the journey. 

The bus was journeying to Kinson in Bournemouth on Wednesday, November 8 and had already broken down around Lytchett Matravers, its first stop, due to an ‘overheated engine.’

A replacement bus came to pick students up after 5.30pm before continuing the journey with the same driver.

According to the Kura app, at just after 6.30pm the driver decided to walk out of the job after stopping the bus near a depot in Poole. 

Dorset Echo:

Kingston Maurward College principal Luke Rake said that halfway through the route, the bus driver 'did not want to be a driver anymore', and pulled over near the closest bus depot. 

He said the manager at the depot raced down the road to replace the driver to continue it to its destination. 

The driver involved has since contacted the Echo and stated that at no time were any children left on their own. She said some parents came to collect their children while others boarded another vehicle which was sent to the scene after she alerted a manager that she no longer wanted to work for the company.

She said: "I waited with the remaining children until all of them had been picked up by their parents. I did not abandon any of the children. 

"As far as I was concerned, they were my responsibility until they had all been picked up whether or not I worked for the company at that time or not. There is no way I would’ve left any young child on the side of the road."

The driver, who had been employed by a bus company arranged by Kura, said she "totally understood the parents' frustration".

READ MORE: College bus routes 'better and safer' despite early term chaos

According to a concerned mum who was in contact with her son, all the students disembarked the bus on a busy road, which prompted ‘safeguarding’ concerns from parents.

Mr Rake said 'at no point were students left unattended.'

The concerned mum said: “This is the third time this term that the 703 bus has broken down, and it makes me wonder whether the buses are fit for purpose.

“When I called Kura to ask them what the problem was, they said they didn’t even know - but the buses are breaking down left, right and centre,” she added.

Mr Rake admitted that the college was still having problems with the 701 and 703 service, but said that '95 per cent of the routes run like clockwork.'

"We are facing challenges affecting this particular route that are unfortunately affecting the same children every time," he added. 

The principal went on to say that newer vehicles for these two routes have been ordered but are 'stuck at the production line' which is beyond Kura's control.

He said that the company managed the situation 'professionally.'

Speaking about the incident, Mr Rake said: "The college and Kura are as frustrated with some of the challenges we've faced as parents are and are looking to have the problems rectified as soon as possible."

These are not the only incidents of recent complaints as another mum, whose daughter is gearing up to take her mock GCSE exams, claims that on one occasion a bus driver stopped at the Bere Regis petrol station unannounced so they could 'buy something from the garage.'

A letter was sent from the principal to affected parents of the 701 and 703 services, and said the situation is 'not something Kura has previously experienced.' 

The letter went on to address the issue saying: "Whilst disappointingly the driver did not finish the route they contacted their manager to inform them they would be pulling the vehicle over along the route between stop 5 and 6 just two minutes from the depot in order for them to take over the service, ensuring students were not left unattended.  The General Manager was present at the vehicle 2 to 3 minutes after it became stationary and proceeded to drive to the next stop."

As previously reported, since changing school bus providers from Nordcat to Kura, Kingston Maurward and Dorset Studio School have been experiencing 'teething problems,' according to Mr Rake. 

Students had missed the opening days of the new school term in September due to the bus not coming to their stop, or re-routed stops at the last minute meaning that more remote students would have to be dropped off to a bus stop nearby. 

Transport providers Kura have been approached for comment.