PARENTS are demanding answers as dozens of children were left late getting to and from school due to socially distant buses being full and not stopping for them.

There are concerns that hundreds of children could be left out in the cold as the UK’s Indian summer makes way for wintry weather.

Despite bus company, First buses, insisting they have increased the number of buses during peak times, children are still facing difficulties on a daily basis because buses have a maximum number of passengers they can carry.

Clare Sprott, from Basildon, is furious after her 11-year-old daughter, Tiana, who is in Year 7 at Bromfords School, walked through the door at 5.30pm after SIX buses went past her because they were full.

The 43-year-old mum-of-three, said: “My daughter was absolutely traumatised, she was so scared.These kids, once the winter kicks in, are going to be left vulnerable.

“It’s also a safeguarding issue - what child wants to be out in the dark and in the cold at 5pm? And she has to walk round Northlands Park to get to the bus stop.

“I’d been trying to empower her to be independent but this isn’t helping. This really needs to change.”

Another mum, who would only be referred to as Mrs Martin, from Southend, has also seen her children face similar issues after an Arriva bus driver asked her two teenager daughters to use their lunch money to pay for a bus ticket after the Arriva app failed to load their pre-paid tickets, which cost £37 for the month.

The girls get on the bus from Southchurch Road to Shoebury High School. As well as app issues, several buses did not stop for Mrs Martin’s daughters yesterday.

She said: “The driver would not allow them on even though it was obvious that they had the app and they had to use the only money they had, their dinner money, as I had already left for work.

“They then informed me of the situation and after an hour and 40 minutes of being on hold I spoke to their customer service team, who had said that they were aware of the issues and had told the drivers to let people on if they had the app.

“Only this driver obviously had not received the memo and was rather over zealous and made them pay.”

“We are in very uncertain anxious times and the kids were already worried about the first day at school and how this was going to pan out.

“To have this happen only increased their anxiety.

She added: “To be honest I am absolutely disgusted by the service.”

In response to Mrs Martin and Miss Trott, both bus companies issued statements vowing the issues would be monitored and resolved.

Oliver Monahan, area managing director for Arriva, said: “I would like to apologise to Mrs Martin and her children for the stress this has caused.

“This is not what we planned for and certainly not what we want to deliver.

“We are monitoring passenger flows daily as the current situation with social distancing has fundamentally changed how people are travelling.

“We are continuing to adapt our network in and around Southend to ensure the all of our vehicles are going to where they are needed the most and are looking at solutions to try and ensure this kind of issue does not happen.

"I hope she will see an improvement and thank Mrs Martin for her feedback.”

Julian Elliott, commercial manager at First Essex, said: “We have added additional buses into our fleet to help manage capacity as we are still following government guidelines with social distancing and reduced capacities in place on our commercially operated bus services.

"I want to reassure everyone we are trying hard to facilitate travel for all our customers.”