Our kids are forced to get SIX buses to school taking two hours each way – they're missing classes…it's a shambles | The Sun

PARENTS have fumed over the scrapping of a school bus service forcing children to take SIX buses to get to and from school.

Students attending two high schools in Belfast now face a four hour round trip each day and some can't even get to school as public buses are full and drive past them at bus stops.

Local parents say the issue was caused by the schools halting their contracts with Belfast Buses, a private company which used to provide students with a dedicated service.

Some children have even been forced to take taxis to get in on time, while others' parents have had to leave work to take them in and bring them home.

Furious parents have taken to social media to express their frustrations.

Many pointed out that their kids now spend almost as much time travelling to school as they do in the classroom.

One wrote: "It's a total shambles how hard is it to put a bus on?

"Bottom line the kids are late for school missing out on their education. Surely in this day and age this problem can be resolved."

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Another shared the story of their son, who they said was late after three buses drove past him because " they were full".

The angry parent added that the boy now had to get off the bus early and then make a 20-minute walk to school.

This, apparently, means that to get in for 9.15am he has to leave the house before 8am.

East Belfast MLA, Joanne Bunting, has called for urgent action and has raised the issue with the Education Authority and Translink, which run the public buses in the area.

She said: "My concerns were largely brushed aside."

Ms Bunting added that the Education Authority had told her that they were "content with the new arrangements" despite "fewer or less convenient transport options" being available.

The Authority also reportedly said that they were "assured" that students would be able to arrive and leave school at an "appropriate time".

A spokesperson for the Education Authority said that they were aware of the ending of the private service in June and of their legal duty to offer pupils who live more than three miles away from the nearest school assistance.

However, they added that "If a pupil is not eligible, transport arrangements remain a parental responsibility."

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A statement from Translink said: "We are aware of the issues for Ashfield Schools as a result of the private operator now no longer running services for their pupils.

"We recently met with the school to review this situation and explore options to further help address their concerns."

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