A public meeting in Emo on Thursday evening heard how at least seven students in the Emo/The Rock area have been left without school transport to Mountmellick Community School.
Seán Fleming, Fianna Fail Laois TD was in attendance at the meeting organised by the local School Transport Parents’ Group.
The Junior Minister for Foreign Affairs was thanked by representative for the Parents’ Group, Paula Crowley for his attendance.
Fellow TDs Brian Stanley and Charlie Flanagan sent their apologies as they were unable to attend.
Cathaoirleach of Laois, Cllr Pachal McEvoy, chaired the meeting.
According to Ms Crowley: “Parents, at the well-attended meeting in Emo, spoke passionately about the tough realities, absolute stress and upset experienced by their children and themselves as working parents, in trying to manage without this vital bus service.
“Their children had concessionary tickets for this bus, last year.
“However, due to a nonsensical and unjust lottery system operated by Bus Eireann – these parents were informed by email (less than 2 weeks before commencement of school) that the bus is full and tickets were not being issued.
“Bus Eireann knew of the numbers requiring seats for this year; they had ample time for planning and organising a sufficient school bus service.
“All of the affected parents applied on-time for their bus tickets (by 28th April last) , paid on time (before June 9th) and have since lodged appeals with the School Transport Appeals Board
“We do not want to be back in this position again next year. A bigger bus or additional bus is needed to meet the growing demand for this newly established bus route.
“It is obvious that Bus Eireann did not plan for the new students in first year using the bus this year; they completely overlooked this and the fact that there were no 6th year student finished with the bus this summer.
“This bus service is less than a year in operation, this is not an adequate amount of time to access the proper capacity or number of bus seats required.”
Further matters relating to the bus service were discussed in detail. Both Seán and Paschal will continue to work with the local Parents’ Group.
Finally, the parents were so grateful with the great turnout and the overall support received from the local community, schools, public representatives, local press and social media.
They request continued support as they vow to “battle on” with their campaign.