With the clocks going back later this month, the council is concerned about children needing to take detours around Hammersmith Bridge and has urged TfL to increase the frequency of the existing bus routes and to consider a bespoke school bus to help them manage the disruption.
More than 1,000 school children from several London boroughs must now make a longer journey every day. The problem is especially acute for students as well as teachers and other commuters living in the borough of Richmond, but is also impacts students from across West and Southwest London who attend schools on both sides of the Thames.
TfL have responded to the council’s request by adding extra buses, including the addition of a fifth 533 bus route per hour in the weekday peaks, from 2 November, when children return to school after the half-term holidays. The council has also asked TfL to explore the provision of a bespoke point-to-point coach system for school children. Hammersmith & Fulham Council, meanwhile, is exploring using school marshals and “walking buses” to assist children on their way to school and back if necessary.
Cllr Stephen Cowan, the Leader of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham said: “As the days shorten, some parents will be understandably concerned about the extended journeys their children are having to take. Their concern, which I share, only serves to underline just how urgent it is that financial solutions to the current closure are forthcoming as soon as possible. The bridge can be fixed and work could start immediately. Securing the necessary funds to pay for this major infrastructure project is, unfortunately, less straight forward”.
In anticipation of shorter days, Hammersmith & Fulham Council has already carried out a full lighting audit of all walking routes and is confident they are all well-lit. Where Hammersmith & Fulham Council has responsibility for SEN travel assistance this is already being provided.
Cllr Cowan added: “we need to do everything we can to minimize disruption. I would like to see a bespoke point-to-point school shuttle service from Barnes to Hammersmith at school times, and we have asked TfL to urgently explore that option. I am very sorry about the disruption caused to our school’s communities by the closure of the bridge, I have written to the headteachers of the schools impacted and I will continue to ensure they are regularly updated”.
The additional buses designed to ease the travel issues are:
- Extra services on Route 533 (Hammersmith Bus Station – Lonsdale Road), increasing the frequency Monday to Friday from two to five buses an hour during weekday peaks.
- Extra services on Route 378 (Mortlake Bus Station – Putney Bridge Station), increasing the frequency Monday to Saturday during the day from five to eight buses per hour.