ARE 1000 COMPLAINTS
By RENEE REDMOND
KATHY LOWNDES cannot believe the Ministry of Transport has only received 20 letters of complaint about Kirklands' new bus timetables, since she's already sent two.
Her disbelief was shared by Lismore MP Thomas George, who said his office received more than 1000 protest letters and complaints.
Ms Lowndes, of Goonellabah, said she and her husband had sent two letters of complaint to the Ministry of Transport and contacted Kirklands regarding the safety of their nine-year-old son, Sean, seven times.
On Thursday a spokesman for Transport Minister John Watkins said the timetable dispute had only attracted about 20 written complaints and the issue had been 'overblown'.
However, the spokesman yesterday said Ministerial staff were monitoring the situation.
"The Minister believes the issues parents have raised with Kirklands need to be carefully looked at," he said.
Kirklands Buslines Group CEO Peter Ferris released a statement yesterday saying Kirklands would continue revising the timetable to improve service delivery.
Mr Ferris predicted at least 95 per cent of Kirklands' buses would run on time by the middle of next week.
"It's getting better every day. Once the time delays are corrected we can look at real problems of safety, which we've been addressing already."
Mr George said it was up to Kirklands to listen to the parents and make the changes.
Mr Ferris said Kirklands received 300 complaints, com- pared with Mr George's 1000.
"AN extra eight staff have been fielding phone calls at the Kirklands office. I can't argue one way or another but we can't solve complaints if they're sitting on Thomas' desk," he said.
Mr Ferris said the change was aimed at having a better network of services with fewer interchanges and shorter journey times.
"The new timetable is not a failure," he said. "It's difficult to introduce a timetable to replace one that has been in place for more than 20 years."
Mrs Lowndes said she would give Kirklands another week to sort out the problem, but if they didn't she would be forced to take Sean to school at 8.25am and leave him to wait outside the principal's office for teachers to arrive.
Ballina MP Don Page said his office had received more than 50 complaints and had already faxed 30 of them to the Ministry of Transport and Kirklands.
"The real issues of safety and children being on buses late need to be addressed," he said. "I think a lot of the complaints are teething problems."
Clarence MP Steve Cansdell, who had received six complaints, said Kirklands should consult more closely with schools.