Bus attacks make Go-Coach alter route

Sevenoaks-based Go-Coach made the decision to cut short one of its routes following attacks on its buses. The company is no longer serving the West Kingsdown area after 4.30pm.

The operator has suffered three incidents in West Kingsdown on buses serving its route 429 Dartford to West Kingsdown. One of its buses was attacked by youths with a pole on 31 October, resulting in the windscreen being broken. The operator also sustained damage to one of its double-deckers, which was shot at with what is thought to be an air rifle. Additionally, the another 429 bus was attacked and shot at with what is believed to be a catapult. One student was hit with glass, but no injuries were caused. This resulted in a large hole in the windscreen and a side glass broken. Repairing the damage is costing over £1,500 in parts alone.

The independent operator has made the decision to terminate all “in darkness” 429 journeys to West Kingsdown at Brands Hatch. This will allow the passengers to walk into West Kingsdown. At present it will still be operating the S11 to South Darenth and 413 to Meopham through West Kingsdown as they should be safer due to them running earlier. Morning journeys will operate as normal. The arrangements are still in place at the time of writing until reassurance is had from the police the culprits have been caught.

Go-Coach MD, Austin Blackburn, said: “Ultimately, we don’t want to go there after dark. We have been told by the police they are going to up their patrols in the area. They believe there are eight youths who may be connected, who are probably local to the area.”

Despite the current spate of vandalism, Austin reports he is pleased with the way his operation is performing. He reports the firm is the key bus operator in the Sevenoaks area and is about to renumber its services between numbers one through to eight. He also has ‘big plans’ for next year.

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