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Frustration at missing school-transport tickets

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Parents told issue with Yahoo email resulted in breakdown in communication


Anton McNulty

A BELMULLET woman is one of many parents whose children have not been issued school bus tickets, and her frustration is growing.
In July, the Department of Education announced that all school transport for the 2022-23 academic school year would be free, but in recent days a number of parents have complained that they have yet to receive bus tickets for their children.
Margaret Walsh from Emlyclass in Belmullet told The Mayo News that she has yet to receive an answer as to whether her 13-year-old son, who started secondary school last Monday, will get a ticket. Ms Walsh applied for his ticket in April, before the free transport announcement was made, and received no correspondence from Bus Éireann throughout the summer.
“I applied for his bus ticket, and I could see in the application portal that he was eligible. I was waiting to be contacted in the normal way to be given the ticket. The ticket wasn’t coming, and when I contacted the national helpline, they weren’t able to tell me anything I didn’t know myself from the information in the portal,” she said.
Margaret was later informed by Bus Éireann that she had missed a July 29 deadline for requesting a new ticket she says was introduced after the free transport announcement was made.
When she asked why she was not notified about this deadline, she was informed that there was an issue notifying people with Yahoo email accounts.
“Once they announced it was free they opened the floodgates, and people like me had up to July 29 to go into the portal to press this button for a ticket request. I would have done it if I had known about it, but there is an issue that people with Yahoo email address did not get any of the communications about it, and that is what is frustrating me. I didn’t hear about it on the radio or newspaper, and if I had got communications from them I would have clicked in the ticket request,” she said.

Relying on relatives
Margaret works three days a week in Swinford, and because her son does not have a bus ticket she has had to rely on relatives to bring him home from school. She said that relying on people to bring him home is not viable in the long term, which is why having the bus ticket is so important.
“The frustrating thing he is eligible for a ticket, and I know people who applied after this announcement for the free transport and they are on the bus – yet I cannot get my son on the bus.
“His brother and sisters both got bus tickets before him, and I paid for their transport. The bus was so convenient because the kids would go to the end of the road at half eight and then I would be able to go to work. There was never an issue with getting a seat on the bus before.

Clutching at straws
“Now, come evening times, we are just clutching at straws to see who is around and who will be able to bring him home. I informed the principal that different people will be picking him up and they might be late and he will have to stay at the school. I would be happy to pay for it so I did not have to worry about him getting home in the evening.
“The portal still says he is eligible for a ticket, but I can’t find out if they are processing his ticket or whether he will get his ticket. If Bus Éireann got back to me to say they are processing his ticket and it will take a few weeks, or there is no space on the bus, I would be able to plan around it.The lack of information is frustrating.”