Calls continue for dedicated school bus

Roberta Neely.
Roberta Neely.

Parents are set to continue campaigning for Translink to provide a bus home for pupils attending Hazelwood Integrated College.

Last year, the post-primary school secured a dedicated bus service for pupils travelling from Rathcoole and Monkstown to the college.

This service has been operational since September 2017.

The move followed a successful campaign fronted by PTA chairperson, Roberta Neely.

However, no dedicated return bus has been provided and pupils are still relying on service buses to transport them home from the Whitewell Road school.

Speaking to the Times, Roberta said: “We have had meetings with Translink, our political parties, representatives from the college and the PTFA and to date there is still no movement on the issue.

“The afternoon bus comes from Belfast and is full of members of the public. Our bus in the morning from Monkstown/Rathcoole to Hazelwood is full, but buses from other areas are not.

“I have fought this for nearly two years and as the chairperson of the PFTA, I will fight Translink every step of the way for current and future Hazelwood students.”

Commenting on the issue, a Translink spokesperson said: “The safety of our passengers and staff is our main priority.

“There are frequent scheduled Metro Services (approximately every 10 minutes) from Grays Lane after school time including the 2D and 2H, which provide double decker capacity.”

The spokesperson added: “As with all requests for additional services, existing service provision, passenger safety and accessibility are taken into account.

“We have liaised closely with the parents, the school and local elected representatives on this issue.”

Cllr Thomas Hogg MBE has pledged his full support for the campaign. The Macedon DUP representative said: “I am pleased to be involved with the campaign for a designated return bus service from Hazelwood College to the Newtownabbey area and commend the efforts of Roberta Neely and other parents to date.

“It’s both unreasonable and unsafe to expect pupils to walk from the college to the Shore Road and board buses beside a busy motorway slip road.

“Many parents have highlighted that the existing Metro buses on this route are already overcrowded so there is a clear rationale for an additional service to cater for pupils from Hazelwood. I am asking Translink to exercise some flexibility in order to achieve a satisfactory outcome of pupils and their families.”