Parking pain could be a thing of the past for a Tunbridge Wells primary school thanks to the creation of a walking bus.
And everyone’s happy – busy parents can drop their children off quickly, while the youngsters get extra time with their friends before school’s even started.
Some 21 pupils now use the bus, which walks from the parish car park to Langton Green Primary School in Lampington Row. Parent volunteers operate the service every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.
The car park – where hordes of parents would previously have parked – now has two bays set aside for them to drop off their charges and go.
“We walk the kids to school from there – it’s about a five-minute walk,” explained walking bus co-ordinator Ellie Ryan, whose sons Ethan and Huey attend the school.
“This is a real help to working parents. It eases the congestion in the car park – when the car park was full, people were parking on Langton Road.
“This is the first stage – hopefully we’ll be able to extend it to local roads, and it should mean we get a better case to get a zebra crossing.”
An official launch was staged to celebrate the walking bus and encourage more pupils and parent volunteers to jump on board. Joining Ellie and the children at the event were Karen Brinkman from the KM Charity Team, which organises the scheme, and supporter Emily Geeson from Countrystyle Recycling.
Other organisations backing the charity’s walk to school work with schools include Volker Highways, Golding Vision (part of Golding Homes), Specsavers, Eurostar, Kent County Council, Three R’s Teacher Recruitment, Whites Transport, Ashford International Hotel, Orbit, Medway Council, London Borough of Bexley, Maidstone Borough Council, and Ashford Borough Council.
Pupils using the new walking bus received certificates, rubbers, and vouchers for Planet Ice skating rink and Leeds Castle during a special assembly.
Older children were told they could become walking bus crew members on completion of Road Safety Skills Tests. The online tests are in multiple choice format with the questions based on the Junior Highway Code.
Simon Dolby, chief executive of the KM Charity Team, said he was thrilled the walking bus had got off to a good start.
“Walking buses are such a safe, healthy, and eco-friendly way to tackle congestion at the school gate – and encourage pupils to get active, and be alert and ready for the day ahead,” he said.