THE PRINCIPAL of a County Limerick secondary school has described as “inexplicable” the lack of action taken by Bus Eireann and the Department of Education to resolve a local school bus issue.
Sean Twomey, principal of Colaiste Iosaef secondary school in Kilmallock, has hit out at the type of “laissez-faire” approach by both parties and says the feedback he is getting from parents is that the actions of politicians “is not much better”.
At present, Bus Eireann is not providing a service to the school for students travelling from Bruff and surrounding areas, as a result of restrictions under the Post Primary School Transport Scheme.
“The situation with regard to the lack of transport provision for students from the Bruff area and the lack of response from Bus Eireann is shocking,” said Mr Twomey this week.
“So far, the lack of action has been inexplicable. It seems as though Bus Eireann and the Department of Education are hoping that the issue will just go away if they do nothing, a sort of laissez-faire approach and according to parents the lack of action by politicians has not been much better with the exception of Patrick O’Donovan who has at least shown some care and consideration in consistently seeking answers,” said Mr Twomey.
There are almost 150 students from the Bruff area attending Colaiste Iosaef. A number of these students chose to attend the Kilmallock school following the closure of Ard Scoil Mhuire in Bruff in June.
“They have purchased uniforms, books etc and to still not know if a bus will be provided for them or not, on the first week of the school year is shocking,” said Mr Twomey.
According to the Department of Education and Bus Eireann, distance eligibility will be determined by Bus Éireann by measuring the shortest traversable route from the child’s home to the relevant education centre. “The pupils who are deemed not eligible in the Bruff area to travel to Kilmallock reside either closer to Hospital Post Primary or Croom Post Primary Schools. Bus Eireann operates school transport services to both of these schools within close proximity to each of these families,” said a spokesperson for Bus Eireann. However, according to parents, the route being measured by Bus Eireann between Bruff and Hospital is not the road the school bus would travel on – it is too narrow to accommodate a bus, they claim. A measurement of the route the bus would be able to travel on, to Hospital, parents say, leaves Bruff closer to Kilmallock than Hospital by 300 metres. “Well if that is the case then the distance has to be remeasured using a road that a bus can travel on. A common enough problem that a first year Maths or Geography student might work out,” said Mr Twomey. “This comes down to economics though, and if it does, the question is, would a bus from Bruff to Coláiste Iósaef be viable and the answer would have to be yes,” continued Mr Twomey.
According to the school principal last year almost 70 students used a private service because they were told that while Ard Scoil Mhuire was open then they would only be providing a bus to that school. “Well now that it’s closed they are being told they are not entitled to a bus to the school that they have enrolled in for the past year or two,” he said.