By Kirsty Topping
A SCROOGE bus driver threw a group of nursery children off a bus taking them on a school trip for being just 70p short in their fare.
The six three-year-olds from an Edinburgh nursery were on their way to visit the Royal Botanic Garden when a bus driver insisted they stump up £1.40 because there were only two accompanying adults.
Despite the children all being eligible for free bus travel stunned nursery staff were told they’d have to pay for two of them as Lothian Buses policy allows only two children per adult to travel free.
Between them the staff managed to scrape enough change together for one child and claim they were ordered off the bus, leaving the toddlers in floods of tears.
Bosses at Lothian buses sided with the driver, saying he had followed policy and had offered the group the chance to pay with a note and claim the change at a later date.
But Wardie Nursery manager Suzanne Adie says the driver should have used his discretion and is furious with the group’s treatment.
She said: “We went on to the bus and paid for two adults and assumed the under-fives would be free as usual, but apparently you can only take two on per adult for free.
“We had no change and he said we would have to get off.
“We scraped together enough money for one child, but he still said we would need to get off because we didn’t have both fares.
“When we had to get off the bus, some of the children were crying, they were really upset. We would have expected the driver to say that this is the policy and you will have to pay in future, but on this occasion you can get on.”
After being forced off the number eight bus, the group waited for the next one but the driver of that bus refused to take their tickets from the previous abandoned journey.
Ms Adie said: “We are a charity so we can’t afford to waste money like that.
“The children were very upset and distressed and we had to explain the whole situation to their parents. They ended up only getting ten minutes on their outing, when they should have got 45 minutes, because we basically got there then had to come straight back.
“I feel very angry about the situation.
“It’s quite a discriminatory policy that if you have three children under five, you have to pay for one of them.”
Lothian Buses said their driver had remained polite when dealing with the group and offered to give them an overpayment slip to claim back change from the company if they gave him a note.
Ian Craig, managing director of Lothian Buses said: “The incident in question was captured on bus CCTV which includes voice recording and there remains considerable discrepancy between the events accounted and those reviewed.
“We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused. However, our rules of carriage have always remained the same and a maximum of two children under five can travel free of charge with one adult.”