Fury of parents as bus dumps pupils four miles from Belfast school
Parents have hit out at Translink after 40 schoolchildren were left standing in the rain when their bus driver told them to get off the bus almost four miles from the school gates.
Pupils at Belfast Girls' Model and Belfast Boys' Model share the bus from the Shore Road to the schools, but yesterday morning they were told that it was the wrong bus and they had to get off halfway through their journey.
Karen Beggs' 15-year-old daughter was one of the pupils involved. She said: "Apparently the driver took a wrong turn at the top of Whitewell and he turned right instead of left. He stopped at the zoo and asked all the kids to get off."
The driver then reportedly told the children that they were on the wrong bus and said that he was going to Glengormley High School.
The children, who are aged between 11 and 18, were left confused after they were left on the side of the road.
She added: "I believe some children's parents came to pick them up, some got on a public bus into the city centre where they had to change buses and get another bus up to school. They were completely soaked through. The school were arranging for another bus to go and pick them up but I think some of the kids were so soaked they started to make their own way to school."
She said that the school had acted quickly to help the children and she blamed Translink for the incident.
"This is completely a Translink issue. You are meant to trust these people to get your children to school. It was a very cold, very wet and very dark morning and the safety of our children was put at risk. These children get this bus every day. I think it's serious neglect from Translink. Questions need to be answered," she said.
Another parent said that the bus had the number four on the front and this was the route number that the children used every day.
She said that the driver may not have changed the number on the bus, causing the confusion.
Belfast Model School for Girls principal Emlyn Wright said: "The school contacted Translink who arranged a replacement bus to take the pupils to school, and senior school staff immediately went to the location where our pupils had been disembarked.
"It is my understanding that Translink are investigating the incident and I will be seeking assurances that procedures are put in place to ensure an incident of this nature cannot happen again."
Belfast Boys' Model was contacted yesterday but no one was available for comment.
A spokesperson for Translink said: "A number of pupils from Boys' and Girls' Model Schools boarded a school bus bound for Glengormley High School at York Street this morning at around 8am.
"After realising that the school pupils were on route to the wrong school our driver tried to recover the situation immediately.
"We have been in contact with the relevant schools and the education authority immediately after the incident to explain and apologise. The decision-making process was not in line with our procedures and we regret that this incident has happened.
"We will investigate how this has happened and take on board lessons learned."