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Bus Eireann Clare school service suspended due to lack of driver

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SECONDARY school students in South-East Clare have left in “limbo” after Bus Eireann suspended their bus transport to St Anne’s Community School suddenly on September 19.

Frustrated parents who have been seriously discommoded by the sudden withdrawal of this vital school transport for about 25 children can get no firm date for when it will return, despite numerous phone calls and emails to Bus Eireann.

This suspension has caused serious difficulties for households in Broadford, Kilbane and Bridgetown where there are two working parents who are stressed trying to juggle lifts for children with their work commitments.

The well established bus service, which is believed to be operational for the last two decades, resumed operation on August 28 until September 16 when parents were informed by the company their bus service would no longer continue from Monday, September 19.

This bus also transports children to St Senan’s National School, Clonlara, after dropping off students in St Anne’s, which is still continuing. Students in O’Briensbridge are not affected by this disruption as students are being transported in a different mini-bus to St Anne’s.

Deirdre Lyons, Bridgetown has been forced to make alternative arrangements to bring her son, David, who is in Transition Year, to St Anne’s for the last three weeks.

Previously, he was able to get a bus from Bridgetown at 7.50am to transport him to St Anne’s.

With another son, Paul attending third level college in Limerick Institute of Technology, she explained she is expected to be in two places at the one time for school drop-offs.

“We are getting no information from Bus Eireann. I rang the head office in Dublin on Tuesday and I was told I needed to contact Limerick by email, which will take the company 14 days to respond to.

“Parents are getting no emails from Bus Eireann. Bus Eireann are not responding to parent’s questions, which is not helping.”

While Rebecca Simons acknowledged difficulties with bus transport is a national crisis affecting several areas in the country, she confirmed it is causing a lot of stress for parents.

Having paid for this service before Education Minister Norma Foley announced school transport would be free, Ms Simons confirmed that she was later reimbursed by the government.

While the government are now paying Bus Eireann, she questioned why the company are not providing a bus to serve the South-East Clare area.

Following the withdrawal of the bus, she has been forced to enter into a car pooling arrangements to transport her two children Jamie, who is in Fifth Year and Alisha, who is in First Year, to St Anne’s.

“Everyone has a right to this service. We are both working in our house. We had two children on the bus. This sudden change has been anxiety inducing for Alisha because all of a sudden she is having to rely on lifts and she is afraid she will be late or miss assembly.

“Sometimes children have to walk to Killaloe Library and wait until parents are in a position to collect them. The lack of a bus service is causing a lot of stress and anxiety for the family.”

Despite contacting the company by phone and email on September 20, she confirmed she has received no response to date.

A Bus Eireann spokesman confirmed, “The service to St. Anne’s Community School in Killaloe has been temporarily suspended as despite significant efforts made by Bus Éireann’s local school transport office, there is currently no contractor driver available to operate this service.

“Bus Éireann’s local school transport office will continue to try and source transport in this area and will provide updates to the families impacted as soon as a suitable resource is available.”

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