As news broke today that a new school bus has been provided by Bus Eireann to cover the route between Ballivor and Trim, one furious father has demanded to know why his son is still without a ticket.
Prashant Shukla was part of a group of parents who undertook a 17 mile protest march last month to highlight the lack of school bus services on the route and now he feels he is being singled out for voicing his opinion.
At the time he told Meath Live that Bus Eireann had sent him an email on July 1st telling him his payment for his sons ticket had been accepted and another on September 14th telling him he had never applied for any ticket before the July 29th deadline.
He revealed, ‘ I had two sons going to Boyne Community College in Trim for the last five years and there was never a problem, this year I had just one going and on July 1st I received an email from Bus Eireann saying my payment had been processed through the online system.
‘Then a few weeks later that money was refunded, so I asked why my son couldn’t get a place and got a second email telling me the reason was I hadn’t applied until September 2nd so I wrote back showing them that they had actually taken money from my account in July and then refunded it and asked them to explain that.
‘I am still waiting for a reply and am now convinced they are making it up as they go along and just sending out random responses without thinking.’
Now as Aontu leader Peadar Tóibín announced a new bus had bad been source for the route Prashant said, ‘My son still hasn’t received a ticket, my wife called the Bus Eireann today and they couldn’t explain why.
‘I am beginning to suspect that this is there way of getting back at me for speaking out and yes basically I feel we as a family are being discriminated against because I aired my views.
‘For five years there was never an issue this year there was and when I said as much my son still has no ticket even though there is a new bus sorted out, what am I expected to think.’
Meanwhile Peadar Tóibín welcomed the Bus Eireann decision, saying, “I am delighted to announce that a new School Bus has been sourced for students and pupils that were left without school transport this year. This is mighty news for all concerned. The new bus will start on Monday the 7th of November. Tickets are currently being issued by Bus Éireann. I would like to thank the staff at Bus Éireann for their quick sourcing of this bus”.
“However it should not have had to take children, parents and their TD to walk 17km to school on country roads on a foggy Autumn morning to highlight this crisis. Governments should sort capacity out before they announce these initiatives. The trouble is for each of the 17 children that now have a bus solution in Ballivor there are dozens of others facing a winter and new year still without School Bus transport”.
“This puts families under fierce pressure juggling schools runs, commutes, their jobs and the high cost of living. We know that one of the reasons that school bus companies are not tendering for some of these contracts is that they themselves are locked into previous contracts that are not covering the increase in the cost of the fuel that they use. The government needs to do more to make public transport viable especially in regional and rural areas. “