CHILDREN trying to get to school have been left “stranded” because of smaller buses laid on to serve a key Merseyside route.

Local campaigners have expressed “outrage” after Arriva cut the size of buses on many services on its 464 route – from double to single-decker.

It means “dozens” of school children and regular users of the route, which runs through areas including Liverpool City Centre, Birkenhead, Bebington and New Ferry, have “frequently” struggled to board in recent weeks.

On Wednesday, Arriva apologised, saying the shortage was due to “maintenance issues”, also promising to resume normal service this week.

Birkenhead and Tranmere ward Cllr Pat Cleary said: “It’s shocking that Arriva have left children stranded on their way to school. Quite frankly, they should be ashamed.”

The Green Party councillor added: “We need immediate intervention from Merseytravel to ensure this stops now and does not happen again in future.”

Local campaigner Chris Cooke said he was contacted by a parent in the Devonshire Park area whose year-seven son was unable to get to school on time “on four occasions over a two-week period”.

Mr Cooke said he contacted Arriva for an explanation, and was told the depot may have been short of double-decker buses on the day in question.

He said he then learned the shortage was “likely” to be because double-deckers were being diverted to provide a bus replacement service for Northern Rail trains.

Mr Cooke added that he was told a driver recently stopped a full bus last week to apologise to waiting passengers because he couldn’t let them on.

“Clearly, this driver doesn’t like letting his passengers down even if Arriva are happy to put profits ahead of getting children to school on time,” Mr Cooke said.

An Arriva spokesman said the recent shortage was actually due to “unexpected maintenance issues” of its hybrid vehicles, and that the 464 route had been one of those affected.

He added: “However, the situation has now improved and from Thursday, there will be a full allocation of double-decker vehicles available for the service again.

“We apologise for any inconvenience that may have been caused to our passengers while the necessary maintenance work was carried out.”