This morning I was desperate to go to the loo but couldn’t. Because I was waiting for the bus. The bus that isn’t a bus at all anymore. It’s now a car. The car that takes LB to school each morning. I can’t nip off to the loo because there is a risk that LB will open the front door if the bus arrives. The escort at the mo’ is a little person and I’m worried that our dog, who is totally intolerant of difference (I know.. the irony, eh?) may run out and nip her. So I wait.
School transport has always been a total fucking pain in the arse. I’ve lost count of the different providers that have been contracted by the local authority to take LB to and from school. At the moment, he has a top rate service with a lovely driver and escort. And on and off, over the past 13 years, there have been some total gems (like the couple on the left). But not always.
This is because greedy, good for nothing shite private companies bid for the tender, flash a couple of fancy vehicles and win the contracts. They then use the least roadworthy vehicles and pay the lowest wage to escorts to transport these kids.
The subtext for me has always been because the kids are valued so lowly.
For a while, social services had the contract and LB was transported in a sparkling mini bus (the eel bus!) with properly paid staff. That was too expensive though so it wasn’t long before we were back with the greedy bastards.
Some highlights include the escort who was covered in sick (her own) and too drunk to speak, an escort who was so old she just sat in a booster seat in the back, the VW van that had the side door tied on with rope and LB was expected to climb through the driver’s door and clamber into the back, and then the times when there wasn’t an escort at all. Just a driver carrying kids who may have complex health issues.
I’ve made endless complaints to the local authority who refuse to engage other than deny. And I am beyond bored of hearing that all the staff are CRB checked and wear identification badges.
“Er, they aren’t and they don’t.”
“Yes, they are and they do.”
“Well, the bus escort that just collected LB wasn’t wearing a badge and I can almost guarantee that she isn’t CRB checked. She didn’t have a clue what she was doing and was obviously drafted in at the last minute.”
“Ms Sarasiobhan, I can personally promise you that ALL the escorts and the drivers are CRB checked. That is a condition of the contract.”
“Yes, I understand that it’s a condition, but I’m telling you it doesn’t happen in practice. We’ve had five different escorts in the last few weeks. How can they all be CRB checked? Can you please ring the ShiteTaxiCo and find out if the escort today is CRB checked? If you could confirm that before the end of school, I would appreciate it”.
“Er, Ms Sarasiobhan, I have spoken to the Bastard Owner of the ShiteTaxiCo and they have said that on this one occasion, the escort was not CRB checked. It was a complete one off because of illness in Bastard Owner’s family. Bast O has confirmed that it will never happen again and the escort has been replaced on LB’s taxi run.”
Yeah. Swapped to escort another taxi putting other kids at risk.
But anyway, going back to the waiting. It’s pretty relentless, day in, day out. Sometimes the car arrives on time, other times we just wait and wait. LB stares out the window patiently and the dogs have taken to sitting with him. Probably hoping for a chomp at the escort’s ankles.