A group of concerned parents have hit out at Translink after their children - all first year pupils at Rainey Endowed - were refused entry on to their school bus on more than one occasion last week.
The 11-year-olds, they said, found it daunting enough making the transition from primary to secondary school without the addition of transport issues.
Three parents who spoke to the Mail, told how 14 first year pupils were left in Moneymore last Thursday, as their school bus drove off without so much as an explanation on what they should do next.
One mother raised the issue of over-crowding, saying children were “stood on the stairs of the bus as it was full, [while] others were sitting three to a seat”.
“On Thursday the Ulsterbus driver told the children that were left, that basically the bus was full,” one father said, “the doors were closed and the bus went on. The group of children that was left were all first years, they didn’t know what to do. They weren’t told by the bus driver ‘it’s ok to get the next Ulsterbus’ that came into the village, so they were basically left in a wee huddle.”
A Translink spokesperson told the Mail: “At the beginning of term time each September school bus services are subject to a ‘settling in’ period where we determine the level of demand from passengers.
“Where appropriate, we will allocate additional resources to a particular route or service.”
Acknowledging the problems some children have had, they said: “Due to the Rainey Endowed bus service being heavily subscribed by pupils, on a number of occasions last week, pupils travelling from Moneymore were unable to board the service and had to wait for later school services.
“On Monday 8th September, there were 14 pupils unable to board the Rainey Endowed school bus service; however the inspector on duty ensured that these pupils boarded the 08.30 St Mary’s school bus service which dropped pupils at Rainey Endowed at 08.40.
They added: “Translink endeavours to ensure that where possible, three for two seating and pupils standing on school services does not happen.
“There should be no standing on dedicated school services. On occasion this can occur, particularly at the start of term as we need to allocate services in line with new travel patterns.
“There is a formal reporting mechanism in place for the driver to make senior management and the relevant Education and Library Board aware of overcrowding
“We would like to thank passengers, parents and schools for their patience during this adjustment period,” they added.