A bus driver faces disciplinary action after turfing a schoolgirl off a free service when she couldn’t pay a fare.
South Wootton Junior School pupil Natasha Morrell was due to catch the school bus service to Lynn’s Springwood High School for a taster day on Monday, ahead of starting there in September.
But after the nervous 11-year-old took a seat with the Springwood students, the bus driver told her father Peter that he wouldn’t take her unless they paid the fare, at around 90p.
Mr Morrell, of Carlton Drive, North Wootton, explained to the driver that he didn’t have any money on him as the school had told parents that pupils attending the taster day could catch the free Norfolk Green service, which is paid for under contract with Norfolk County Council.
He said: “I told the driver I didn’t have an issue with paying and I’d pay tomorrow, but he said he wasn’t on shift tomorrow. He said if we didn’t pay he wouldn’t take her, even though it was a free service.”
The driver then contacted his office while the bus stood at the North Wootton green bus stop, and Mr Morrell believes the agreement with the school was confirmed over the phone.
“He said ‘well I can’t let her on for free now as I’ve already charged two other students’,” said Mr Morrell. “Rather than apologise and take her, and refund the other students as he should have done, he stuck to his guns and wouldn’t back down.
“He was rude and very aggressive. He even shouted at the students on the bus to shut up, to the point where I had to say ‘I don’t think you should speak to the children like that’,” he said.
Mr Morrell, a driving instructor, then had to drive Natasha to the school, where he reported it to staff.
However, the bus driver’s behaviour was so bad that even a prefect student who witnessed it on the bus had already reported it before he arrived.
“If going on the bus with older students to go to ‘big school’ wasn’t daunting enough for Natasha, she had this to deal with as well,” said Mr Morrell. “It was embarrassing for both of us.”
A spokeswoman for Norfolk Green, now known as Stagecoach in Norfolk, said: “We would like to apologise profusely to this gentleman and his daughter for any inconvenience caused. The driver is now undergoing disciplinary procedures.”
She claimed the company was not aware that pupils attending taster days were allowed to travel free with other non-paying students and therefore drivers had not been informed.
However, the school told Mr Morrell that it had sent emails to both Norfolk Green and Norfolk County Council on June 24 making the situation clear.