ANGRY parents are demanding a return school bus service for their children.

Pupils at two Farnworth schools, St James’ and Mount St Joseph, use the 976 bus to get to their classes in the morning.

The 976 collects Mount St Joseph pupils after school, but due to the St James’ school day finishing 15 minutes later, those pupils do not have a return service and have to use the 521 Cumfy Bus.

This service currently terminates at Farnworth Bus Station due to the closure of Moses Gate bridge, meaning St James’ pupils from Little Lever and Bradley Fold must either catch two more buses, or walk three miles to get home.

Transport for Greater Manchester, which organises school bus services in Bolton, has now agreed for the 976 to pick up at St James’, in Lucas Road, once the Moses Gate bridge reopens and vehicles no longer have to follow the Bradford Road diversion.

But angry St James’ parents say they are not prepared to wait for the issues at Moses Gate to be resolved, and want the bus to begin serving their children immediately.

Vanessa Marsden, from Bradley Fold, said she was still not happy that her 12-year-old son would be without a school bus service until the road reopened.

She said: “We need help now rather than waiting for the bridge to open. The 976 is getting them to school, so why can’t it get them back again, rather than waiting for the bridge to be sorted out?

“If they’re going to start there’s no reason they can’t start it now.”

Mrs Marsden, who collects Matthew from school, said her child’s safety was her main concern.

She said: “I’m not happy with that, it’s leaving children quite vulnerable, leaving them to walk the streets at that age.

“I won’t let him walk all the way home or catch three buses, I just think it’s too much at that age, it’s a lot to ask someone to do when they’re not used to catching buses. It’s quite a distance for him, about three miles.

Lisa Cosbie-Ross, from Little Lever, said her son 12-year-old son, Jack, was facing a long journey home every day and agreed the situation needed addressing immediately.

She said: “He walked home the other day and he said his feet were really hurting. His feet were aching and he was shattered walking with all his PE kit.”

“It’s supposed to be a school bus service. How can you choose one school over another for the sake of an extra seven minutes.”

“It’s not fair and it’s worrying, really, I don’t know how they can call it a service.”

A Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) spokesperson, said: “As a service that is subsidised by TfGM we are committed to ensuring the 976 benefits as many people as possible, maintaining vital links between schools and their local communities.

“We have discussed the concerns that have been raised with the bus operator, Atlantic Travel, and they have agreed to re-time their evening service to ensure it can accommodate pupils from St James’ School, who finish later that those from Mount St Joseph.

“The route is currently diverted as a result of road closures that are in place around Moses Gate, but we will make sure the changes are communicated to parents and pupils in advance of them being introduced.”