First Student UK: Wikis


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First Student UK
First Student #68533, operated by First Hampshire & Dorset, at the 2008 Alton bus rally.
Slogan The safer way to travel to school
Parent FirstGroup
Headquarters Macmillan House, Paddington Station, London
Service area United Kingdom
Service type School bus
Managing Director Linda Howard[1]
Web site First Student - Welcome

First Student UK is the brand used by FirstGroup for school bus transportation in the United Kingdom. The brand was originally used in the United States for school bus transportation there, but was expanded to the United Kingdom in 2000.[2]



For a long time, there has always been concerns surrounding the safely of children travelling on school buses. In the United Kingdom, there are concerns about children's safety after they have alighted from standard school buses.[3][4] There are also more general worries about safety, such as lack of seatbelts, crowded buses, and in Northern Ireland especially, the use of "three for two" seating, where three children are expected to sit on a bench seat intended for two passengers.[5]

Other concerns include poorly maintained buses, drivers' backgrounds, children travelling on public buses and school children's behaviour. In one case, two 14 and 15 year old children fell out of a bus window, after they leavened on the side of the Premiere Travel bus they were travelling on.[6]

As a result of this, over the past decade, starting in around 2000,[7] the talk of and introduction of American style yellow bus scheme has been widespread. In 2005, it was reported that the widespread introduction of yellow schoolbuses would "save pupils". As well as safety benefits,[8] it would also be better to the environment.[9]


FirstGroup played a big start in getting new school bus scheme off the ground from the beginning, taking an active role. First Student and First in West Yorkshire successfully piloted one of the first yellow school bus schemes in the Huddersfield and Calderdale area in 2000.

In 2002, another early scheme to be set up in the United Kingdom began in Wrexham, Wales. It was contracted to First, who began to operate the scheme in June of that year. First supported the scheme, with FirstGroup's chief executive Moir Lockhead saying "we believe that the yellow school bus offers the safest, most reliable way to transport children to and from school".[10] As with other schemes, including one in Runnymede in Surrey set up around the same time, First had to open new bases to operate the school buses, having no other operations in the respective areas. The first schemes also had buses built like traditional US school buses, whereas later schemes have more conventional UK bus shapes.

By October 2002, FirstGroup's first Welsh scheme had proved successful enough for the amount of buses to be doubled.[11]

As further schemes developed, First became more involved in setting up schemes. First Berkshire, as well as already running the Runnymede First Student service, won the contract from Surrey County Council in 2005 to run the Ride Pegasus! school bus scheme they, although using buses in a different livery.

In December 2007, a yellow school bus visited Perth, Scotland, to test reactions. FirstGroup suggested that their research shows 86% of British parents would like to send their children to school in dedicated buses.[12]

To develop this system in the United Kingdom the company decided to bring in American knowledge in the form of managing director Linda Howard, who had owned and operated her own school bus company in the States before it was acquired by First.[13][14]

In 2008, one bus toured the country on trials.[15] The campaigns continued. Former Home Secretary David Blunkett supports the use of yellow school buses, in in 2008 worked with First to campaign for wider use of the school bus system.[16]

Current operations

First Student UK currently take 8,000 students to and from school in the UK, every day.[17] 15 school bus systems are currently operated, two in Scotland, two in Wales and the rest in England.

In contrast to the North American division, where school busing is a primary function, First Student UK takes advantage of the existence of a First Group operating base throughout the country. Yellow School Bus schemes are run on behalf of the local authority by an existing subsidiary of First or sub-contracted to an independent operator where they do not have a presence.[2]

Another First Hampshire & Dorset run First Student school bus, seen in 2009. It is run for Hampshire County Council.

One of the biggest schemes, First Halifax is the largest provider of yellow school buses on behalf of West Yorkshire PTE. First West Yorkshire is also involved in a First Student school bus scheme. They run 81 school buses every day on the PTE's "My Bus" scheme. First Berkshire run the small Runnymede scheme, as well as Surrey County Council's Ride Pegasus scheme, which they run from a specially set up base in Merrow, Guildford, although this is due to end in July 2010 after Surrey CC decided to stop the scheme. Another scheme is run on behalf of Hampshire County Council, with handful of buses operated to selected schools by First Hampshire & Dorset.

See also


  1. ^ First appoints new Managing Director for First Student UK
  2. ^ a b About First Student UK
  3. ^ "School bus safety bill goes to PM". BBC News. 2009-06-08. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  4. ^ "Commons debates school bus safety". BBC News. 2009-07-02. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  5. ^ "School bus safety to be improved". BBC News. 2006-09-05. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  6. ^ "Two fall out of school bus window". BBC News. 2009-06-25. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  7. ^ "UK may get yellow school buses". BBC News. 2000-06-13. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  8. ^ "Yellow school buses - a US icon". BBC News. 2005-06-16. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  9. ^ "Yellow buses 'would save pupils'". BBC News. 2005-06-15. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  10. ^ "School run begins in US style". BBC News. 2002-06-10. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  11. ^ "Yellow buses fleet set to double". BBC News. 2002-10-29. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  12. ^ "Yellow school bus stops in town". BBC News. 2007-12-11. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  13. ^ Putting students first (1 of 2)
  14. ^ Putting students first (2 of 2)
  15. ^ BBC News Video - "Bus boss explains yellow buses" Accessed Jul 22 2008
  16. ^ "Yellow Buses 'cut congestion'". BBC Radio 4 Today programme. 2008-09-12. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  17. ^ "First Student UK - Our report card". FirstGroupaccessdate=2010-03-10. 

External links



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