Call for all school bus routes to be salted

December 9, 2008

Following numerous complaints about icy roads and dangerous driving conditions, local councillors are calling for all school bus routes to be salted to help prevent accidents.

Crossmaglen Sinn Fein Councillor Terry Hearty has called on Roads Service to grit all school bus routes, especially those around the vicinity of schools.  He said his office in the town has been inundated with calls from concerned parents complaining about untreated school bus routes.

 “There has been reports that the Ulsterbus school services from Creggan, Glassdrummond, Ballsmill, Tullydonnell and Silverbridge going to schools in Newry, have left children standing along the road for half an hour or more, in sub zero temperatures only for them then to go home, missing school,” the councillor said.

“In the past week Ulsterbus failed to service bus routes from Monday to Wednesday, although we had no frost. On Thursday the bus was 30 minutes late and by that time the children had gone home, resulting in almost a week missed from school.  The fact that children are sitting exams makes this all the more serious,” he said.

Mr Hearty stated that he has contacted Roads Service on a number of occasions over the years asking them to assess the routes with a view to treating them, however he has been told that they do not meet the criteria.  

“This is simply not good enough, in the interest of child safety, I once again call on Roads Service to salt all school bus routes ensuring children get to school safely,” Mr Hearty said.  “All departments need to work together to ensure that child safety is their priority.”

Haughey writes to minister

Meanwhile SDLP councillor Sharon Haughey says she has written to Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy calling on him to ensure that children’s lives are not put at risk by expecting school buses to travel on untreated rural roads.

At a council meeting last Monday, Ms Haughey also called on Roads Service to grit the Clady Road, which is treacherous during cold weather spells.  However, she claims Roads Service refused to grit the road and on Tuesday morning last, residents were faced with driving nightmares.  The school bus was unable to drive on the road and the local primary school was forced to close as a result.

“On Tuesday morning I was inundated with calls from residents in Clady about the extremely dangerous icy driving conditions,” Ms Haughey said.  “I have told Road Service time and time again that the roads in the Clady area are an accident waiting to happen during the winter months.  I continue to be met with the same response that there aren’t enough vehicles travelling on the road to meet Road Services criteria.  I don’t believe that response is good enough,” she added.

“People travelling on the road deserve safe driving conditions – they are all paying their rates and road tax and feel like they are getting nothing in return,” said Ms Haughey.