Police were called in to help ferry stranded schoolchildren home after buses became unable to deal with the fallout from recent heavy snowfall.
The Herald understands that treacherous driving conditions meant in some cases it took local kids and commuters several hours to complete normally short, routine, trips throughout Strathearn on Friday.
One driver said: “The situation was such a joke that my wife took more than three hours to get from Perth to Braco because of the A822 mess. The road was closed at Bridgend in Crieff so she drove up the A85 to Perth and down the A9 to get home.
“Also, police were ferrying pupils home from Crieff High School because of the situation as I’m told the buses were withdrawn after 6pm. My neighbour’s lad was home after 7pm – not bad for a 20-minute journey on a typical day and there were still other kids in the police 4x4.”
Explaining the situation, a council spokesperson told the Herald: “Some or all school transport left early from a number of schools around Perth and Kinross because of severe weather conditions on Friday.
“These decisions are taken by individual schools in conjunction with their school transport providers. Three schools in the Strathearn area were also closed or partially closed on Friday – the Community School of Auchterarder, Comrie Primary School, both partial closures, and Madderty Primary School.
“We were advised on Friday afternoon of issues with transport taking pupils home from Crieff High School and Crieff Primary School due to the weather.
“In two cases, operators could not complete their routes and, following liaison with the council, pupils were returned to Strathearn Community Campus where they could be looked after while their families were contacted about the situation.
“In one case, volunteer 4x4 transport was used to assist a small number of young people in getting home, whilst, in another, two pupils were escorted to their grandparents’ house in Crieff by school staff.”
Ochil and South Perthshire MP Gordon Banks this week penned a letter to council chief executive Bernadette Malone asking questions relating to snow-clearing work on the A822 Crieff to Greenloaning road.
Mr Banks said: “The representations received in my local office in Crieff make it clear that those people using this short, 11-mile stretch of road were taking anything up to three hours to do so on Friday.
“Under the Perth and Kinross Council’s winter service policy, this is designated as a top priority route, therefore, I have asked the council to explain in detail what was happening on the ground at this time.
“I want to establish that everything possible was being done to keep people and businesses moving.
“I also am seeking assurances that future bouts of bad weather will see this stretch of road receiving a better service from PKC.”
In response, the council representative added: “We will be responding to Mr Banks directly on this matter. The A822 Crieff-Greenloaning road is part of a 27-kilometre priority winter maintenance route and we had a gritter/snowplough working on the route on Friday until 9pm in an effort to keep traffic moving, with gritting and snow clearing beginning again at 5am on Saturday.
“However, the weather conditions meant once we had gritted and ploughed the route in one direction, it was covered again and we had to go back over it to plough the snow which continued to fall.