Belfast Telegraph

Schoolboy’s bus ordeal highlights overcrowding

by Natalie Gorman

The father of an east Belfast school boy has raised serious concerns about the overcrowding on school buses after his 12 year old son almost fell out of a moving bus.

Over two months have passed since the Grosvenor Grammar School pupil had to “hang on for dear life” to his moving school bus as the doors opened from directly behind him.

Mr Elliott, from the Dundonald area, described the “horrifying” incident that took place on March 13.

He said: “The metro bus, as usual, was overcrowded and my son was the last to get on. He was wearing his rucksack on his back and unfortunately it got caught in the doors when they closed.

“He protested to the bus driver but it took a while for the driver to take heed.

“When the driver realised what he had done he opened the doors — while the bus was still moving!

“My son wasn’t expecting that — he thought the driver was going to stop before he opened the doors. It took him by surprise and he was very scared — he held on to whatever he could so as not to fall off.

“I have received an apology from Translink — I have been told the incident was captured on the bus CCTV.

“However, this is meaningless if something isn’t done to address the overcrowding and more importantly — the driver’s careless actions.

“I have spoken with the headmaster of Grosvenor Grammar School and he has voiced his concern over this — whether Translink will be able to organise an extra bus that is needed, we will just have to continue to wait and see.”

Grosvenor Grammar principal Robin McLoughlin said: “The safety of our pupils is our primary concern and we hope that Translink will be provided with the necessary funding to ensure that pupils are able to travel to and from school in a safe manner.

“Provision should be made so that there are enough buses on each route to ensure that there is a seat, with a fitted seatbelt, for each passenger.”

In September 2006 the Department for Regional Development announced an additional investment of £37million for school buses. The Assembly-commissioned ‘Home to School Transport’ report recommended that no pupils should have to stand during dedicated bus journeys by April 2009.

A Translink spokesperson said: “We recognise that there have been recent concerns regarding the pupils of Grosvenor Grammar School boarding school services on the Castlereagh Road.

“We are planning to reschedule this service to ensure that from the beginning of the new school year, the first vehicle to arrive at the school will be empty and be able to accommodate the majority of awaiting pupils.

“We will continue to review this school service and work with Grosvenor Grammar to help alleviate any further concerns.”

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