New school bus payment system 'a total shambles'
PARENTS have been left furious by a series of glitches on the website used to book and pay for school transport ahead of the new term.
Bus Eireann is setting up a helpline to deal with its online school transportation system, which has been labelled "a total shambles".
With less than a week to go before the July 25 closing date for applications, parents are "stressed out beyond belief" due to the complexity of the system, according to Fine Gael TD John Paul Phelan.
As of yesterday, only 9,000 families had managed to pay for the bus tickets among 27,000 who have registered online for the upcoming autumn term. It is estimated there are 37,000 families who have to pay for bus seats.
Another 37,000 families are eligible for medical cards and are not required to pay but they still have to register, whether online or by post.
And while families who qualify for a medical card are not required to pay the €100 fee per primary pupil, nor the €350 fee per secondary pupil, they have been encouraged to register online for a waiver.
Mr Phelan said his Carlow/ Kilkenny constituency office has been inundated with calls from frustrated parents who are unable to navigate around the new online payment system for families buying school bus tickets.
"It requires state-of-the-art internet browsers which many parents – especially those living in rural areas without broadband access – don't have," he said.
Bus Eireann is now under pressure to extend the deadline beyond next Friday but last night it said no decision has been made to extend the deadline, although it will be reviewed next week.