SEVERAL secondary school students across West Cork are in danger of not getting a seat on their schoolbus, with just days to go before term starts.
A meeting in Tracton last week heard that 65 students from the area had not been allocated seats on schoolbuses.
Sen Tim Lombard (FG) said parents also came to the meeting from other parishes, and the figure of students without bus seats quickly rose from an initial 18 to 65. ‘These students are discretionary bus ticket holders – in that the school they go to is not considered their nearest school – and if there’s room on the bus after full ticket holders, they then fill the seats. It’s a lottery system as to who gets the seats,’ said Sen Lombard.
He said that he knew of one family who have three students going to Kinsale Community School and one got a bus ticket, while the other two didn’t. Sen Lombard described the numbers as ‘frightening’, with one bus run alone in his area having 20 people who are discretionary bus ticket holders.
‘The Department of Education has agreed that if there is a bus route that has 10 people or more that are affected, then they will review that. They will either put on a new bus, or get a bigger bus. We are trying to sort out the ‘pressure spots’ for this year and come up with a better scheme for next year,’ he said. Sen Lombard added that the whole idea of the ‘closest school to you’ has to be looked at.
‘It’s a huge problem and maybe the authorities should make it the next closest school. This system was designed in the mid-80s and is outdated and the demographics of schools and towns have totally changed since then,’ he pointed out.
Meanwhile, parents from Skibbereen organised a meeting in the town last week about reinstating a private bus service from Skibbereen to Schull Community College, which ran up to about two years ago. Speaking to The Southern Star, meeting organiser Joan Davis said: ‘There has been huge interest since we put up the post on social media last week, so we will see if we can re-activate a bus service for those travelling to Schull daily.'