LITTLE GIRL LOST
By RENEE REDMOND
WHEN Nikki Daley was told her six-year-old was let off her school bus into the care of a stranger, she got goose bumps.
Her daughter, Taylor, was one of thousands to experience the chaos of Kirklands Buslines' new timetables and routes which continued to cause havoc in its second day of operation yesterday.
Kirklands is continuing to defend their new timetable and is dealing with problems as they crop up.
The Ballina year-one student at St Francis Xaviers Primary School had strict instructions on which bus to catch on Thursday and followed them, but after almost an hour on the bus, she started to panic.
"Taylor was so upset she would have gone with anyone who said they would take her where she needed to go," Ms Daley said.
The bus had dropped Taylor about 300 metres from her after-school care, where a stranger had assured the bus driver she would take her the rest of the way.
Ms Daley said she believed the woman had been following the bus to get her own children off, when she saw Taylor so distraught she told the bus driver she would take her.
She first heard of Taylor's ordeal when she picked her up from the after-school carer's house.
"The carer had waited out the front of the house for almost an hour when Taylor turned up in a stranger's car," she said.
Nikki said she wanted to thank the woman for what she did, but did not encourage other parents or members of the public to take responsibility for get- ting other people's children to their destinations.
"Put in the same situation, I would have done the same," she said.
"I don't want the blame put on the bus driver, it's on Kirklands for making the timetable confusing."
Kirklands Buslines general manager in Lismore, Peter Shepherd, said he had not heard of the incident before being told about it by The Northern Star yesterday, but said it was not appropriate and very concerning.
"We all have a duty of care," he said.
Mr Shepherd said it was fortunate the woman was genuinely helping, but he did not want to put passengers in a situation where they looked to strangers for help.
He said drivers were supposed to keep children on the bus and contact the depot if they were confused about where to go.
"The driver will contact the base, we will contact the parents and the driver will either drop them to the address where they need to go or, failing that, the child will be taken back to the depot until their parents can pick them up," he said.
Complaints about the new timetables and routes continued yesterday, with parents reporting overcrowded buses and children arriving late to school and home.
Ballina parent Dianne Lloyd said her nine-year-old daughter, Mikey LloydTighe, who has cerebral palsy, was taken around East Ballina for an hour before arriving at after-school care in central Ballina yesterday.
"She was crying and very upset. I'm going to catch the bus with her on Monday," she said.
East Lismore par- ent, Liz Hay, said after chasing her son's bus down the street on Thursday afternoon, she decided to drive him to St Carthage's yesterday.
Deputy principal of St John's College, Woodlawn, Kim Evans, said after going through the timetables with students, yesterday afternoon was less chaotic.
He said the school was meeting with Kirklands to discuss the timetable.
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