The Wokingham Paper

Nine is the magic number: special school only buses to operate for new term

Reading Buses Lion 4 service

CHILDREN watching Sesame Street will know that each programme is brought to them by a letter and a number. For pupils returning to school, they need to remember that special buses are being brought to them by the number nine. 

Reading Buses will be running the dedicated school buses as the new term gets underway this week. They include Bohunt and Bulmershe schools. 

The company says that its main message for the new academic year is ‘it is safe to travel’, and is running these routes to ensure that remains the case. These routes have a 9 places in front of its number so that both pupils and adults know that these are school-only buses.

The company also says that face coverings should be worn. 

Jake Osman, Marketing and Communications Manager for the firm, said: “These journeys will be temporarily removed from the public timetable to ensure there is sufficient capacity for students.

“The journeys will also be temporarily renumbered to include a 9 at the front of their service number. For example, a journey on sky blue 16 will become 916 so members of the public know not to board.

“Additional public buses will be provided where there is demand, although these school journeys tend to be against the peak time flow into town.”

The company is advising that students can still travel on public services, but the capacity on these buses is limited to approximately 50% to maintain ‘one metre plus’ social distancing and so the dedicated school services should be used whenever possible.

Additional buses will be provided where the company regularly finds demand to be higher than the 50% capacity of one bus.

“To provide enough capacity within the government social distancing guidelines we are having to run our dedicated school buses as private services,” Mr Osman said.

“Social distancing is not required on private buses because the students are within the same social ‘bubble’ and will be making the same journey on the same bus every day.

“This means we can use the full capacity of the bus, minus the seats close to the driver, to ensure that all children get to school as close to normally as possible.”

There are no changes to fares for the moment and students will be able to use their usual tickets to access the special buses. 

“The best value ticket, any of our annual products, can be bought online using Direct Debit to help spread the cost. There’s still time to purchase tickets before school starts,” he said, adding: “We apologise to all parents that our school bus information has come out later than normal, but we hope they understand the massive impact Covid-19 has had on the country which has meant that the school bus operation has been an ever-changing picture.

“However, we are now in a position which allows us to communicate a plan that will allow schoolchildren to still get to school in safety and comfort.”

The company advise that all the information with a school-by-school breakdown can be found online at 

Bus routes

  • Bohunt School A special timetable will operate
  • Bulmershe School A special timetable will operate
  • Crosfields Leopard 3/8/9 will operate at 50% capacity
  • Emmbrook Lion 4 will operate at 50% capacity
  • Forest Lion 4 will operate at 50% capacity
  • The Holt Lion 4 will operate at 50% capacity
  • Kendrick School The leopard 3/8/9 and claret 21 will run at 50% capacity. 
  • Leighton Park Leopard 3/8/9, and claret 21 will operate at 50% capacity
  • Maiden Erlegh Purple 17 and lion 4 will operate at 50% capacity
  • Reading School New, temporary routes 80 (from Caversham Heights) and 94 (from Lower Earley) will run as private services for Reading School only. Timetables will be coming soon
  • St Crispins  Lion 4 will operate at 50% capacity
  • St Joseph’s College The existing 81 from Caversham Heights will remain, at 50% capacity
  • UTC Reading Lion 4 and purple 17 will operate at 50% capacity
  • Waingels Orange 13 and 14 will operate at 50% capacity

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