Dad if the bus was like a Swiss Train then I might be happier about getting it everyday”

My son if it was like a Swiss Train and served the same chocolate I would live on the bus. To someone who has been brought up on the infamous UK train network the concept of clean, comfortable and sometimes opulent carriages is rather alien. That’s before we even think about precision punctuality and a nice food service.

I remember waiting for a train in Switzerland one morning when the station announcer informed us that an avalanche had blocked the track (the announcement was in 4 different languages). In the U.K. that would mean the track would be shut for about 9 months. Or if our Prime Minister is sorting it out maybe never. A few minutes later the station master started speaking to all the people waiting on the platform. In perfect English he informed me that the specialist team was on site and he genuinely seemed horrified that the train would be late. After a couple of minutes it was announced that the avalanche had been cleared and they were deeply sorry that the train would be 10 minutes late. Ten Minutes……

Son survived today’s bus trip but it wasn’t a bundle of laughs. Although he did appreciate Dads attempt at a slushy drink when he came home. The dog enjoyed chasing the ice around the kitchen when someone forgot to put a lid on the blender. Silly dad.

When budgets are tight it is difficult for councils to run a school bus service. We actually should be thankful that we have one. But the school bus run is often so difficult for many kids, especially those spectrum kids. I’m not sure I like that phrase for some reason, may not use that again.

So many factors contribute to the difficult school journey:

  • Different drivers everyday. Our son would really appreciate just one familiar face and it spooks him when a new driver appears,
  • Frequently dirty bus interiors. Let’s be polite and say they tend to be not that clean. Again to someone who hates touching potentially dirty surfaces this is not conducive to a relaxing trip,
  • Poor behaviour. I think the term bear pit comes to mind. To someone who finds social settings challenging this type of behaviour is really distressing,
  • Different sized buses used daily. Because of his Aspergers he likes routine. Not knowing what type of bus will turn up can and does disorientate him. It is a big issue if the bus randomly changes from minibus, to medium size bus, to large super coach,
  • Because the bus size changes and the large number of kids using the bus, seating position is random. On an ideal day he can have a window seat by himself just behind the driver. However when smaller buses turn up, seating is restricted so he is often forced to sit next to someone who he probably does not know. This is an absolute nightmare for an Aspergers kid.
  • The buses have such a tight timetable. On arriving at school the kids only have a few minutes to get to the first class. If you are late you get an automatic negative. After the final lesson the kids only have 10 minutes to get on the bus before it leaves. Added to this it is a big school site and also due to its age it’s a bit of a maze. That’s a lot to cope with especially for someone who can go into meltdown when he needs to rush and who struggles with the concept of time. He also takes a lot longer to pack his bags and put things like coats on. It’s a recipe for anxiety and stress.

I haven’t got an answer. I have contacted the school and council. Our Health Service has repeatedly raised similar concerns in connection with many of its patients. Nothing changes. My last offer was that I would be more than happy to volunteer to work with the authorities in designing the next tender process for school services. I suspect I know the two word answer to that, something like **** off. In an ideal world we could get the Swiss Public Transport experts to run the school bus. That would be problem solved and wow the chocolate…..

56 thoughts on “Like a Swiss Train

  1. My autistic son will be 28 in April. I remember all those things to well when he attended school. I would not want to go back through those years again. I always spoke up and Caleb’s Doctors were equally verbal. Hope it gets better. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Sadly, as I’m discovering here in CA trying to deal with similar issues, the politicians just don’t care. All they care about is the unions special interests and companies that buy their votes. Citizens tried to force the city to clean up the public transportation buses here, and put some standards on personal hygiene for riding. 5to 10% of the passengers are REALLY rank. They were told to quit discriminating against the poor.

    The only way you’re likely to get their attention is to threaten to sue them. Better yet, get a coalition of like minded parents together to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I wish we had a swiss train here also. The transport for handicapped children is a minibus and they also change drivers. We have several mothers that come and wait which is good. They do not have an assistant to do this on the bus. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I so hear you. This is an incredibly thoughtful post. Good luck with all you’re doing to improve the bus transportation system for your son and his classmates! You seem to have a gentle and caring strength about you.

    Sending blessings to you all,
    Debbie

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I wouldn’t enjoy that bus 😦

    Is there any way you could make a case for alternative transport? I used to get taxis to and from school as part of the additional provisions built into my statement or whatever they’re called now. Mine were related to my blindness and the access technology I had to carry, but there were other children in the cars for whom the regular school bus wasn’t a good option for different reasons.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They can offer it but if a bus is available then it’s like getting a blood from a stone. I suspect the bus may stop soon due to cutbacks. Our council did provide free transport for disabled kids going to college but they are looking to get rid of this as well.

      Like

  6. My autistic son refuses to ever get on a bus! And that’s because of the horror stories we hear on the news… & as for England dealing with weather disruptions or even just fixing roads…! These exclamation marks show how I feel!!!!!!!!!!! 🤬

    Liked by 2 people

  7. This is any child’s nightmare, let alone one with issues such as your son. Would other parents be prepared to join forces to voice concerns and put forward a solution? This is when a private company comes into its own, but whilst it is right that anyone working with children now is vetted, even if it is cost effective, the reams of red tape to go through is enough to put anyone off.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jeez, your busing sounds awful. For all our gripes here, the school buses aren’t THAT bad. Blondie’s route has typically one driver, and if she’s not there it’s the same sub, so the faces are familiar by now. And because the buses are coded with pictures for the non-reading students (a purple dinosaur, a black cow, etc), the buses HAVE to be the same every day. I’m not sure when this system started, as we had nothing like this when I was young, but I’m sure thankful for it now because it makes me comfortable having all three Bs take the bus next school year.

    Liked by 1 person

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