Council persist with double-deck buses

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DOUBLE-DEckER buses will continue to be used on school routes in Aberdeenshire, despite two buses toppling over this year, including one on the Garvock Hill above Laurencekirk.

Council officials were asked to look into the issue in the wake of the Mearns accident on October 1.

A double-decker carrying 50 pupils from Mearns Academy overturned in horrendous conditions of wind and rain near the summit of the Garvock Hill on the B9120 Laurencekirk-St Cyrus road.

Nineteen pupils, who were going home to St Cyrus at the end of the school day were injured and a number needed hospital treatment.

The bus overturned and landed on its side in a field.

The earlier incident happened on March 5 when a double-decker overturned on the B999 Aberdeen-Tarves road.

It was on its way to collect Meldrum Academy pupils and was not carrying any children at the time.

Eight Aberdeenshire secondary schools use double-decker buses on certain routes. Replacing them with single-deck buses would cost the authority an extra £648,000 a year.

Members of the infrastructure services committee backed the continued use of double-deckers but called for officials to carry out a review of school bus routes to find out if the buses were suitable for them.

They were also asked to review the use of double-deck buses in bad weather.

The decision was taken some time ago to ban the use of double-deckers on the Laurencekirk-St Cyrus route, something which was widely welcomed by parents.

Committee chairman Peter Argyle said: “The principle to my mind is beyond question. There is no reason not to use double-decker buses on appropriate routes.”

The chairman tabled a motion to back the recommendation of officials.

Councillor Stuart Pratt tabled an amendment calling for local area committees to have a say. He received some support, but others said the decision should be left to road safety experts.

Councillor Jill Webster said: “I think local members defintitely want to know what is going on, but I don’t think it is the right move to put it to area committees for a decision.

“The decision needs to be taken in a scientific, factual and evidence-based way.”

The motion to back the recommendation of officials to continue with the use of double-deck buses was carried 9-5.