I usually avoid leaving home between 8,20 and nine o’clock, because the Mummy Run is in full swing, with cars nose to tail for miles rather than hundreds of yards. There is no shadow of doubt the current system is a total waste of time for the parents, the other drivers who wish to use the roads, and also a waste of valuable fuel, so we need to find an acceptable solution. The reason for the Mummy Run is clearly to do with safety, the lack of safety in cycling in our congested streets and the general fear of gang fights and molestation. The government seems either disinclined or unable to tackle the problem. I have a suggestion, whether it has already been approached, tested and rejected, or whether it is really a viable one, would need work, but if it were, it would save so many families from having to run two cars, at a time of financial stringency, and would save damage to the environment as well.
The proposal is based upon the mass use of minibuses, driven by retired people with proper accreditation, to meet the logistics demanded by the school’s. Put simply, professional drivers, and competent driver’s who have passed the required tests, who are also retired, but keen to have a new job and to augment their pensions would be employed and paid for by the government, which would also supply the buses and the cost of maintenance and fuelling, while the children’s fares would be met by some sort of monthly payment from the parents and surrendered to the government. The schedules and logistics for the collection of the children, their return home and their transport to sports and other activities, could all be accommodated, because the drivers would themselves have no fixed schedule other than the standard runs. The economy to the parents, considering that the second cars would have very low mileages but the same overheads as a family car, would surely be an inducement to make the system work. The governing body could possibly be the local education authority or Local Government.
The one foreseeable problem would be the children being late at the meeting points, and thus vulnerable. Another would be those children living off the beaten track, but it might be possible to have one bus that does a wider sweep of these children specially. There could be a problem with some of the parents falling behind in the payments. But I believe that if the trial was made, even for one large school alone, placed in a County Town, where the children come from both the town, the outlying estates and the rural area, it would be worth the expense to try to make it work, iron out any problems and reassess it on a nationwide basis.