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Last Updated: Monday, 5 April, 2004, 08:28 GMT 09:28 UK
School bus designed for safety
The new school bus
The new bus has incorporated a number of safety features
A specially-designed bus to combat the problem of anti-social behaviour will be taking to the streets of Newport.

The coach has been designed to ferry pupils from two of the city's schools and cost bus company Newport Transport 135,000.

Six CCTV cameras are on board to help the driver and pupils will only be allowed to sit on allocated seats.

If the scheme is successful the firm plan to invest in another six of the 70 seater coaches.

The bus is designed with six strategically-placed cameras which are fed into a monitor to record any bad behaviour.

Trevor Roberts, Newport Transport
Trevor Roberts said that bad behaviour had increased on buses

The firm, which doesn't get public funding to pay for the school runs, has suffered a spate of problems with children using the services recently.

On 25 March a boy fell out of a window from the top floor of a moving double decker - he was not injured but police are investigating the circumstances.

This incident was followed by two top floor windows being kicked out five days later.

"Getting this specially designed bus came from two reasons really," explained managing director of the firm Trevor Roberts.

"The first was that the bad behaviour on the buses was getting too much and our drivers were very anxious about it.

"They can't monitor the top floor of a double decker bus properly when they are driving and it was leading to problems.

"The second reason was that some of our double deckers need replacing but are very expensive to buy new, so we looked at a way of being able to ferry the children around on a single floor coach."

The new bus sits 70 students on one floor, in rows of three and two seats and because it is designed to sit children the aisles and seats are narrower.

Bus driver's cab
The driver can monitor the CCTV images over a small screen

Each child will be given a special pass entitling them to their own dedicated seat which they will sit on every time they board the bus.

And the child will only be allowed to use the service if they agree to a code of behaviour and ensure they care for their seat.

The bus has been fitted with seat belts and the company has been working closely with school bus safety campaigners Belt Up School Kids (BUSK).

"We are piloting the scheme on routes to and from Duffryn High School and St Joseph's High School because these are the busiest routes," said Mr Roberts.

"We plan to launch the routes after the Easter holidays and really hope that it will help to kerb some of the bad behaviour we have seen in recent times and ensure the safety of the children," he added.

Pat Harris, from BUSK welcomed the initiative.

"This is a really positive move from Newport Transport and is a really good safety initiative," she said.

"We are waiting for all the reports to come back to show that this coach has met our safety requirements but we have no reason to doubt that it won't.

"I think that the two schools involved are really lucky to be getting this and I just hope that the children realise how lucky they are," she added.


SEE ALSO:
Head's fears for bus pupils
30 Jan 04  |  Wales
CCTV test for school buses
28 Jan 04  |  South West Wales


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