Ballinlough-based Cllr. Michael McGreal, pictured bottom right, has written to both the Department of Education and the Department of the Environment about changes to a local bus route which has seen a minibus carrying seven or eight pupils replaced by a 52-seater bus carrying only seven or eight pupils along narrow country roads.
“Until recently the children were collected by mini bus, but recently Bus Éireann put the minibus off the route and brought out a 52-seater CIE bus to do the job. The bus travels along an eight-foot wide road in Cargins and turns at the end of the road.
“This bus is replacing a 12-seater minibus that was on the run last year. It serves children attending Carrick NS from the townlands of Carraghs, Keyfield and Clooninsla.
“I saw the bus passing. It’s a 52-seater bus and the road is only over nine feet wide. Seven or eight children use the bus. The bus first of all brings secondary school kids in Castlerea. After that it has to drive six miles to Ballinlough and then go along remote county roads and because of lack of turning space, has to travel on past its required distance to turn. It then travels back through Ballinlough and out to Carrick School. It cannot turn around at Carrick School so it has to drive another mile on towards Ballyhaunis to turn and go back into Castlerea again.
“Apart from the safety and the narrowness of the road, there is another element to this, the carbon footprint of this bus.” Cllr. McGreal believes that the large 52-seater bus has a carbon footprint which is ten times greater than the small minibus which should be on the route. However, when he raised the matter with Bus Éireann, he was told that they were pleased to have been able to take one bus off the books and amalgamate these two runs.
Cllr. McGreal has written to both the Minister for Education and the Minister for Environment on the matter, but has yet to receive a reply from either on the subject. In his letter to the Minister for Environment, John Gormley TD of the Green Party, Cllr. McGreal highlighted the carbon footprint of the new arrangement, stating that it is ten times greater than the original arrangement.
Cllr. McGreal also pointed out that at the recent inquest into the death of bus driver Eugene McGreevy in Hillstreet, it was recommended that large 52-seater buses would not travel along narrow country roads.