by Gerry Hand
Every picture tells a story, and this one of a forlorn young girl waiting for a bus that is destined never to arrive, speaks volumes.
And the situation that led to it has left her Mum angry and annoyed, not to mention €175 out of pocket.
Tracy Hanby Gray and her twelve year old daughter, Clodagh, live in the Walterstown area and on the 16th of August Tracy forked out money to Bus Eireann to secure a seat on a school bus, for the term from September to December, as Clodagh was due to start her secondary education at Navan’s Loreto convent last week.
As the start date came closer and there was no indication from Bus Eireann as to what time pick up would be, or indeed where it would be, , Tracy became a little anxious.
She told Meath Live, ‘ I suppose I started to panic a bit and tried to contact them but they are not taking phone calls and my emails went unanswered so I started to ring around other bus companies to see if they did school transport.’
After a series of calls, Tracy managed to establish that Bus Eireann had sub contracted the route out to Carolan’s, a coach hire firm in Nobber.
Far from it, Carolan’s have just one pick up point which is a twenty minute cycle from Clodagh’s home, and they weren’t for turning the bus to collect her.
Tracy told us, ‘ I spoke to someone in Carolan’s and I was basically told take it or leave it but that’s our only collection point in your area.
‘I’m a single parent and I work in Dublin so I am out of the house by 7am each morning which means Clodagh has no way of getting to where Carolan’s pick up, it’s a twenty minute cycle but it’s unfair on her to have to do that on a winters morning, but all this only came to light with days to go before she started school.
‘I had to discover it all myself, Bus Eireann just took my money without ever telling me they wouldn’t be providing the service, so it looked like we were goosed and at that stage, I was getting frantic.’
A lucky break was just around the corner though.
‘I was making loads of calls to people in the area to see if there was any advice they could give me when one parent told me there was a private bus, run by a guy called Albert, who did a school run to Navan, and gave me his number.
‘I rang him and managed to secure the very last seat on an eighteen seater minibus. It goes right past our door which is ideal, it costs €25 each week but it’s well worth it.
‘What’s annoying me is the total unprofessionalism of Bus Eireann in all of this, they never advised me they were sub contracting the run out, they just took my money and forgot about me.
‘All my attempts to get my €175 back have been ignored, I could do with it as it would cover the cost of seven weeks with the private contractor.’, up until Cjristmas,
Efforts to contact Bus Eireann for comment have been unsuccessful.