Hundreds of students at two local sixth form colleges impacted by Stagecoach bus cuts
Following last week’s announcement that Stagecoach will be cancelling and rerouting vital services in Cambridgeshire from October 30, post-16 centres from across the region have been working together to explore the impact of these changes on students who travel to college by bus.
Having consulted students from Long Road Sixth Form College and Hills Road Sixth Form College, it is clear that the changes would present significant disruption to the education hundreds of young people, with many respondents expressing grave concerns regarding their ability to continue with their studies. Following a student survey at Long Road close to 400 students will be affected by these changes and staggeringly, over 200 students will be unable to get to college. A similar survey at Hills Road indicates a comparable level of impact on students and their families who will have to navigate very tough decisions regarding their futures.
As educators of 16-19-year-olds, we are keen to impress upon Stagecoach the far-reaching implications of the changes in terms of social mobility and equal access to education in the area. Many young people rely on these bus services for more than transport to and from their education providers; they use them for part-time jobs; broadening their social circles; leisure and exercise and as conduits to explore the world beyond their local areas.
Huge numbers of Sixth Form students in Cambridge spend time volunteering and completing work experience placements in the city and travelling these routes enables them to broaden their horizons and enhance their learning with cultural experiences. Travel is a substantial contributing factor in how students perceive their opportunities beyond the present. These cuts present vast obstacles for young people who have already dealt with tremendous adversity through the COVID-19 pandemic and who do not need further stress, worry and uncertainty about their futures. The mental health impact of such changes is a further factor we are hoping Stagecoach will consider before axing these services at the end of October.
Families are voicing concerns in large numbers, a student from Long Road said: “I take the bus from Chatteris to St Ives every morning at 6:30am, so I am able to get to Long Road for my lessons, without this bus I don’t know how I am going to be able to get to college.”
17-year-old Hills Road student Bryher said “I catch the bus to get to college every day and sometimes when it’s really busy there isn’t a seat on the bus. The news that my bus to college is going to be cancelled is extremely stressful - I’m taking my A levels next summer and I don’t know how I will get to college after 30 October.”
A parent of a Hills Road student commented: “We live on the outskirts of Newmarket. We had purchased a yearly student bus pass at over £620 just before the announcement. Shocked and angry doesn’t even begin to cover our feelings.”
We are calling on Stagecoach to review their decision to make such drastic and devastating changes to their services. Until then, we will continue to support Mayor Dr. Nik Johnson and the Combined Authority as they work with other bus operators to find a solution to this crisis.