The overall safety record has been good and a lot of credit for this must go to the schoolbus drivers.
However, in the last year, with at least six major accidents now on record, parents have become very concerned.
Recently I made it my business to travel on a schoolbus to see what it was really like. I got permission from a bus company in the Carlow region to do a school run. The first thing that struck me was the age of the bus. It was registered in 1982 but, as the driver said to me, “it’s a Leyland; they would go on forever”. After two hours on board I had no doubt it was roadworthy.
Still, after 24 years on the road, I felt it was time that this sturdy vehicle was parked for good. What struck me forcefully, though, was the state of the roads. I felt at times that to attempt these roads on a bicycle would have been a struggle. I could only imagine what the driver had to endure in dark, damp or frosty conditions in addition to expecting him or her to maintain order and monitor student behaviour. It can’t be done, and it is not right to ask them to do so. The failure of motorists to take care in the vicinity of the schoolbus is another hazard. Students themselves also need to be much more visible.
School transport needs to be coordinated by one Government department. The safety of our children must take precedence over any financial considerations.
Jim Jackman, President
National Parents Council, Post-Primary
Glasnevin Business Centre