A PARENT whose daughter can no longer get the bus to school is calling for a rethink from public transport bosses.
Peter Cowin’s daughter Breesha used to get the school bus from her home in Port Soderick to the old St Ninian’s Lower School.
But now she has become a year 9 pupil at Bemahague, her dad is having to drop her off by car in the morning as there is no through bus service available to St Ninian’s new lower school site.
Breesha’s brother Philip, meanwhile, is in year 10 at St Ninian’s upper school so can still get the bus directly from home.
The Cowins’ MHK Howard Quayle (Middle) has taken up their case, and has suggested as a compromise a shuttle service is provided between the two St Ninian’s sites using the school’s own minibuses.
Director of public transport Ian Longworth sympathised with their situation but said his division simply cannot afford to put on another service for the small number passengers who would use it.
Port Soderick comes under the catchment area for Ballakermeen High School and the bus from the village which services St Ninian’s upper school now goes on to Ballakermeen rather than the lower school.
But Mr Cowin, 49, said: ‘When our children started high school there was no catchment area. They could choose between Park Road or Ballakermeen. It wasn’t an issue really. Breesha wanted to go to St Ninian’s.’
He said he had contacted Bus Vannin who told him that they didn’t have to provide a bus service as the family lived outside of the catchment area for St Ninian’s.
Mr Cowin said a shuttle bus service could be provided between the two St Ninian’s sites or existing school bus made to do a short detour to take in Bemahague.
‘It’s a simple solution,’ he said. ‘We’re supposed to have joined up government.’
He has taken up the issue with Mr Quayle – and claimed other parents have concerns about the timings of bus services to Bemahague, with some children having to arrive at school as early as 8am.
Mr Quayle told the Manx Independent he had spoken both to Education Minister Tim Crookall and Community, Culture and Leisure Minister Graham Cregeen.
He said: ‘I’ve suggested as a compromise that for younger kids who go to Bemahague but whose older brothers or sisters go to the upper school it might be possible to have a minibus shuttle between the two schools.
‘Minister Crookall pointed out that St Ninian’s do have two school minibuses and he is just looking into this at the moment.’
He said the minibus shuttle might ease traffic congestion and also address concerns about buses arriving at Bemahague too early.
Mr Quayle said the shuttle service would only be needed for a couple of years at most.
Public transport director Mr Longworth said: ‘It’s a very sad situation but we just don’t have the resources or funding to take every child from their front door to school.’
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