Thursday 23 October 2014

6,000 schoolchildren wait for bus tickets as glitches hit new online system

Sam Griffin

Published 27/08/2014 | 02:30

THE Government has been ordered to update a long-standing arrangement between the Department of Education and Bus Eireann in relation to school transport services

Bus Eireann is to examine how it issues school bus tickets after "technical glitches" resulted in thousands of school-goers not getting their tickets in time for their return to the classroom this week.

The company has been forced to send out around 16,300 temporary tickets via email while more than 1,000 people called an emergency helpline yesterday following the error which has contributed to a delay in tickets being issued.

The firm said it would conduct an audit after the "glitches" arose with the new online registration system.

In a statement yesterday, Bus Eireann said the scale of the problem had been exaggerated and that almost 95pc of tickets had been issued around the country. It said it was only "slightly behind" the number of tickets issued last year and that the temporary tickets were being issued as a precaution.

"To allay any concerns for the minority of parents who have not yet received these in the post, the company has decided to issue temporary email tickets to any families whose tickets have been processed since Wednesday, August 20," it said.

"Bus Eireann will also accept receipt of payment or email confirmation from anyone who paid before the deadline of August 1 last."

By last night, around 85,000 tickets out of 91,000 orders had been issued including some 
received after the deadline, meaning about 6,000 schoolchildren are without tickets.

The annual tickets range in price from €100 for primary school students to €350 for secondary schools, and €650 for a family. This year the tickets were only available online and not from local offices, unlike previous years.

The company apologised to customers who had not yet received tickets and said the problem had been complicated by a high number of late payments.

"There were some technical glitches with the new system that were promptly rectified and we extended the payment dateline by one week earlier this month, to alleviate any inconvenience this may have caused," the statement added.

A spokesperson confirmed to the Irish Independent the "technical glitches" related to problems encountered by some customers who were unable to buy a school bus ticket because of the internet browser they were using.

Audit

She added that the company would be undertaking a full review of the new system in the coming weeks.

"We're going to conduct an audit and review of everything when we have all the tickets 
out. It does need a bit of fine-tuning and we're going to work on that to make it extremely user-friendly. This was the first year of it. We are going to 
review the system and have an audit and make sure it's fully accessible. It's working at the moment. If we need to make any improvements to it, we will," she said.

Bus Eireann drivers have been instructed to accept proof of purchase in cases where 
students have not yet been issued with a ticket.

The spokesperson said services had operated normally yesterday and that no problems had been reported.

Parents or anyone with concerns can call the helpline number 1800 945 945, while those who have yet to buy their tickets are asked to do so immediately at www.buseireann.ie.

Irish Independent

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