Calls for an ‘urgent review of transport provision’ after students left Co Antrim without buses
An Alliance MP has called for an ‘urgent review of transport provision’ following the cancellation of buses for pupils at a primary school in Co Antrim.
Patricia O’Lynn’s comments come after more than 100 children at Mary Queen of Peace Primary in Glenravel were left without transport for two days.
She says she has been contacted by more than 40 parents “all concerned about the lack of transport to school”.
It comes after the Schools Authority (EA) contacted the rural primary school to say there would be no buses on Thursday and Friday after a driver fell ill.
Ms O’Lynn said the cancellation of the service left dozens of pupils without transport to school.
“Due to a shocking lack of preparation on the part of EA, they will now have to find another way to get their children to school or they will be absent,” she said.
“In the midst of a cost of living crisis, some parents will now potentially have to take time off work to provide short-term childcare themselves.
“It’s hard to believe that EA didn’t have a backup plan or additional support in place and I reached out to ask about it.
“This is just the latest in a long series of problems with transport provision here, with the shuttle serving the area having insufficient capacity and often having to make multiple trips to cover the area.
“The school being in a rural area, pedestrian access is difficult, accentuated by the absence of a designated crossing point or a lollipop service.
“I raised these issues, as well as the urgent need for a new school building, at the assembly.
“This is a further appeal to EA and the Department for Education for an urgent review of the transport offer and for a better offer for Glenravel.”
The EA has apologized for the disruption to bus service.
“We appreciate the inconvenience caused to parents and can confirm that transport will resume on Monday October 3,” a spokesperson told BBC NI.
“We have a series of contingency plans in place to ensure services remain operational, including the use of emergency rescue drivers, private hire contracts, agency staff and a recruitment program flexible.
“While every effort is made to reduce disruption on impacted routes, this is not always possible due to individual circumstances combined with the shortage of drivers in the industry.”