IT was a fight for a seat of a different kind for those public reps seeking election when they attended a public meeting in Ballineen last week.
The meeting was held to discuss the lack of seats on school buses for students in the area and the fiasco which ensued last September.
There was a large attendance at the meeting in BEDA Hall where parents were told that they will need to apply for their children’s’ bus tickets at the end of April in order to get in the queue.
There was also a general consensus from public representatives that the school transport system is ‘not fit for purpose,’ that Bus Éireann needs to provide a bigger bus for the students in the area and that they should be more flexible.
Speaking to The Southern Star after the meeting, organisers Majella Coughlan and Nora Bradfield said they called the meeting because 18 secondary school students from the area were left without seats on school buses at the start of the school term last year.
‘Eight of us eventually got seats but 10 didn’t and there are more numbers starting in secondary this year,’ said Majella.
;So we called a meeting to find out how many are hoping to be on the buses, so that we can talk to Bus Éireann now, rather than finding out two weeks before school starts that our kids weren’t successful in getting tickets,’ she added.
Nora’s son eventually got a seat on one of the buses, but only in recent weeks and up until then she had to drive him to Bandon.
She said that parents ‘need to start the fight now’, as there will be even more eligible students seeking buses later this year.
‘More of us will be deemed concessionary and left without a seat if there is no room on the bus. We had a good turnout of our public representatives who are all on board with us, and will fight with us to get it resolved,’ said Nora.
Five months on, seven students are still without bus tickets, forcing their parents to drive in and out to Bandon every day.
‘We are asking any parents to contact us with numbers so we will have a better idea when we approach Bus Éireann officials,’ she urged.
Bus Éireann came in for severe criticism,, too with Deputy Aindrias Moynihan (FF) stating they were running the school transport system ‘very much to the letter of the law.’