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The 3 for 2 rule
The 3 for 2 rule came into effect in the 1950’s. It was a way of ensuring that if there were one or two children more than the seating capacity on a bus that they would still be carried and not left stranded at the road side.
The rule allowed children of 14 years and under to be carried three to a two person seat. However, over the years, full advantage of this rule has often been used to legally overcrowd school buses with up to 50% extra passengers over and above the seating capcity and also additionally carry up to 22 standing passengers. Effectively an 87 seat double decked bus could carry up to 152 passengers legally.
There is no additional emergency exit available to cater for all the additional passengers should it become necessary to evacuate the vehicle in an emergency. It would take much longer to get all the passengers out in an emergency or to remove injured passengers if the vehicle was involved in a crash.
Heads are more likely to clash in an impact or even in an emergency stop. Unruly behaviour is also more likely among pupils in overcrowded conditions and driver distraction more common on overcrowded transport. When introducing the 3 for 2 rule no provision was ever made for the 50% additional baggage. This has led to many instances of baggage blocking the aisles and exits - a serious breech in the law.
It is interesting that one head teacher at a secondary school measured 300 pupils’ bottoms and reported to BUSK that the average bottom was 35cms. The average bus seat is normally 80cms. The third pupil has just 10cms of seat to sit on. If the third pupil is unable to sit properly and safely on the seat then it is illegal to implement this rule. There are many other conditions to comply with when using the 3 for 2 rule that are often ignored making it illegal to use this concession.
Today, many authorities have abandoned the use of this outdated rule but if your child is still forced to travel in overcrowded conditions you can do something about it. Contact BUSK for further advice.