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End in sight for Hampstead's school run chaos

PUBLISHED: 15:01 01 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:28 07 September 2010

THE school run nightmare which has plagued Hampstead s streets for decades is finally coming to an end with hundreds of parents backing a campaign to introduce school buses. The scheme, which will ferry children aged three to 11 in and out of NW3 and even

THE school run nightmare which has plagued Hampstead's streets for decades is finally coming to an end with hundreds of parents backing a campaign to introduce school buses.

The scheme, which will ferry children aged three to 11 in and out of NW3 and eventually aims to remove around 1,400 cars from the roads daily, will go out to consultation this month.

More than 700 families have registered their interest in the buses and 16 independent schools in the area including UCS, Devonshire House, Sarum Hall, Lyndhurst House, Heathside Prep and St Anthony's have signed up.

The campaign has been led by parent Marta Baschwitz, who was so fed up with the twice-a-day traffic chaos that she took matters into her own hands and launched the School Bus Project.

Ms Baschwitz, whose two children go to school in NW3 and who lives in Kentish Town, has worked with the council and the schools for two years in a bid to solve the problem which is caused by a very high density of schools in and around Fitzjohn's Avenue.

"There will be a massive reduction in traffic, congestion and pollution," she said. "The scheme will initially be five bus routes and later we will increase them bit by bit with the aim of eventually removing 700 cars in the morning and 700 in the afternoon within the first year.

"I had to suffer the school run every day and I wanted to do something about it. I am Spanish and I went by school bus in my country and I just thought why don't they have school buses here?

"I am now very excited we are approaching the decision. If you believe in something it is very important to keep going until the end and persevere."

Camden Council will provide the buses to Transport4Schools, the consortium of schools Ms Baschwitz has set up, and parents will pay for the service.

Headteacher of UCS Junior School, Kevin Douglas, said: "It is a really good idea and I believe parents will use it. Prospective parents always ask about buses and we are definitely excited about this scheme."

The bus project, which the Ham&High first reported on last November, had been stalled by the issue of where the buses would stop to drop-off and pick-up students.

Hampstead councillor Chris Knight has worked with Ms Baschwitz, schools and residents to come up with locations for three bus lay-bys on Fitzjohn's Avenue and 12 elsewhere in NW3.

A consultation will be launched this month and a decision is set to be made in December. If it gets the green light as expected, the buses will be on the road by January.

In the pilot project there will be five separate routes picking up 155 children in Highgate, Golders Green, West Hampstead, Islington and Muswell Hill, bringing them to NW3.

Residents who have suffered the chaotic school run for years are over the moon with the scheme.

Farokh Khorooshi, from the Fitzjohn's Avenue Residents Association, said: "I see an end in sight to the nightmare of the school run and we are very pleased and looking forward to change on all levels."

To consultation is due to be unveiled soon at www.camden.gov.uk/consultations.

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