By Louise Walsh
The row over school bus seats in Kildalkey, Co. Meath is finally to be resolved from Monday, with the help of the Local Link programme and the National Transport Authority.
The rural transport programme is to be re-routed through the village and will be able to ferry the dozen students who have been carpooled to school by parents since the end of August.
The students - mostly first years in Trim - had to find their own way to school 10kms away in Trim, after they were told by Bus Éireann there were no seats available on the bus for them this year.
They grabbed headlines last month when they staged a protest walk along winding roads from their homes to school, leaving at the same time as the school bus.
Una Swords was hit with a dilemma on how to get both her daughters to school this year, despite her eldest having a place on the bus for the last four years.
"I received an email telling me that not only will Caoimhe (13) not be able to get the school bus to start post-primary this year but that my 17-year-old daughter Aoife, who has been getting the bus for the last four years is no longer eligible either."
Parents Angela Skelly and Sinead McNally met with Bus Transport Minister John Halligan last week and said that, while he admitted that his "hands were tied in the current system", he would review the school bus service in the village.
As parents continued to juggle work commitments this week, parents were told on Tuesday that a solution will be on the cards from Monday.
In a statement, Miriam McKenna for Local Link Louth Meath Fingal (LMF) announced the change to their Ballivor to Kilcock service, especially to accommodate students.
She says: "Due to a change in the 115C service by Bus Éireann the Local Link LMF service between Ballivor and Kilcock has been replaced with a service between Mullingar and Kilcock/Dublin.
"This was an opportunity to put a service into three areas of Longwood, Killyon and Kildalkey that Flexibus Local Link had received transport requests.
"The service timetable is set up to accommodate students attending local schools, Colleges, and employment.
"The National Transport Authority accommodated the quick change of service and therefore we are delighted to start the public service between Trim and Dublin on Monday 15th October 2018."
The announcement has been welcomed by parents in Kildalkey.
"It looks like Local Link has stepped up to help and offer a service to and from the village, through Trim to Dublin daily which will also be fantastic to not only students but all commuters in the area," said Una.
"We are thrilled and hugely relieved as it was getting a bit of a strain to us."
Parent Sinead McNally also echoed the sentiment adding: "This service will travel through Kildalkey village at 7.45am to bring passengers from the whole community.
Local Cllr Noel French who sits on the board of Flexibus said: "It's great news. It's a temporary solution to the problem that will only be fully resolved when they address the silly system that's in place."
Damien English, Local Minister and Fine Gael TD for Meath West said he was delighted that Local Link/Flexibus has been successful in their application with the NTA to provide a new bus service for Ballivor, Kildalkey, Killyon and Longeood.
"I recently met with the CEO of the National Transport Agency seeking an update in relation to the future of Local Link/Flexibus services based in Co. Meath.
"We discussed the continued need for expansion of services given the popularity of this transport organisation to the people who live outside of Bus Éireann and Private bus routes.
"In my view it is vital that Local Link services in Meath should be continually expanded to meet the local need. The Meath based service carried more than 178,000 passengers last year across Meath, Louth and Fingal."