THOUSANDS of children will need to find an alternative way to get to school from September after a school bus company announced it was putting the brakes on its services.
Mick Strafford, managing director of BrightBus, said he would be closing the company, which provides transport to eight of the borough's schools, in July.
Along with the loss of service for youngsters, it will also mean the North Anston firm’s 90 staff face redundancy.
Mr Strafford (55), who has run the firm for almost 20 years, said that “the time was right to call it a day” after 12 months of “deteriorating health”.
He added: “We are doing it in a very structured way. If I close this place and retire then it means I can give my staff redundancy.
“We have got four months before the schools go back and announcing it now it gives plenty of notice to the schools.
“I have got some guys who have worked for me for many years and they are sort of family and it’s going to be a very sad day in August.”
The company, which also goes under the name MAS Special Engineering Ltd, was formed in 1998 and has a fleet of 77 brightly green-coloured buses.
Its buses served more than 12,000 pupils a day at 30 schools across the whole of South Yorkshire, including Aston Academy, Wales High School, Brinsworth Academy and St Pius Catholic High School in Wath.
Mr Stafford said he would be holding talks with schools and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive to try and help find alternative providers and secure jobs for his staff.
He said: “The company is in no financial difficulty and we can continue to operate until July which means we’re not doing this in the middle of the exam period.
“To do it this way and end in July is the perfect way and time to do it.”
Mr Stafford said he would not be looking to sell the company but aimed to help find alternative providers for the schools affected and jobs for his staff.
“I don’t think the company could be sold because I don’t think other companies would want to do what we do,” he said.
“We have been doing this for a long time and we don’t shout from the rooftops but I can’t think of another bus company that does what we do.
“We identified areas not served well for pupils and filled that gap so I would think the service will be missed.”
Ben Gilligan, SYPTE director of public transport, said work was under way with schools and local authorities to minimise the impact of BrightBus’ announcement.
This would mean identifying alternative arrangements for affected services with other commercial bus operators, he said, adding that regular updates will be published at www.travelsouthyorkshire.com/brightbus.
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