By Kieran O’Mahony
THE mother of a student who wasn’t allowed on the schoolbus in Bandon last week, despite having a ticket, says it’s not ‘rocket science’ to solve the current problems.
She is now calling for a complete overhaul of the school bus transport system.
Speaking to The Southern Star, the mother (who wishes to remain anonymous) said she was ‘livid’ when she received a call from her daughter – a student at St Brogan’s College – that she was not allowed on the bus last Wednesday afternoon (August 28th).
‘I want to highlight this issue because the same thing happens every year. I just feel really strongly that the template that Bus Éireann are working off is just completely outdated,’ she said.
‘It doesn’t work and they shouldn’t have to wait for two or three days into the school term before the bus inspector shows up to sort this mess. Surely they can do the maths and see how many applied for tickets and how many seats are needed.’
She has two children who both have eligible tickets to travel to Bandon on the schoolbus.
‘I got a call from my daughter last Wednesday to say that there was no room on the bus and it left without her but that her brother was on the bus. Thankfully, I contacted a neighbour who was collecting her kids and she turned around to collect my daughter.’
It turned out that nine students were left behind without getting on the bus.
‘My neighbour ended up bringing three children home who all had bus tickets and two who had no tickets.’
She said that her daughter is very level-headed and knew what to do immediately and contacted her.
‘I just feel that you trust the system and you’ve paid for the ticket and entered into a contract with Bus Éireann, and it’s a complete breach of that contract.’
The school bus inspector turned up last Thursday morning in Enniskeane, and later in the afternoon in Bandon, to ensure that those with tickets got seats on the buses, as did local gardaí.
‘I rang the gardaí after this incident and I told them I was concerned about child welfare and safety,’ she added.
She said that she and her husband have also been trying to support the other local families – 18 students from Enniskeane and Ballineen – who are unable to get tickets for the schoolbuses to Bandon.
‘There has been a bit of a lead-up to this and my neighbours and friends are suffering because they can’t get seats on the buses. And then this happened to us, which beggars belief.’
She said that all parents are looking for a ‘system that is fair and efficient’ and added that the whole system is not ‘user-friendly’.
‘We really want to make sure that this doesn’t happen again and it needs a complete overhaul, including the buses that are used, which are very basic. Also they send out the bus tickets and there’s no information to parents about where to get the buses in the morning and evenings, or the times of departure.’
The whole issue of the ‘nearest school’ rule is another bone of contention.
‘I really resent the fact Bus Éireann can try to dictate to parents where they can send their children in this day and age. Ballineen and Enniskeane are equal distance between Bandon and Dunmanway, so they should not be saying to families that they can only get a bus to Dunmanway. It’s not rocket science and I can’t see it costing more.’
The mum has since written to the Minister of Education, Transport and Children on the matter.