School?s in, but we?re missing 240 students
By Alex Easton
A third of students at a Lismore school were an hour late yesterday as Kirklands Buslines struggled to launch its new timetable and bus routes.
St John's College Woodlawn principal Glenn Roff said about 240 of his school's students arrived an hour late yesterday while others arrived nearly 20 minutes before supervision started.
That was repeated in the afternoon, with Mr Roff saying another 240 students were still waiting outside the school for a bus at 3.40pm.
In a chaotic day:
nA Kirklands driver contradicted claims that no jobs would be lost in the shake-up, saying he had lost his because of the new structure.
nHundreds of students were stranded at the Lismore bus interchange, near Trinity College, as late as 5pm after missing their connecting buses.
nKirklands told schools that drivers would take students home 'in their cars if necessary'.
nPrincipals at Wyrallah Road and Lismore Heights primary schools said some students had arrived up to 15 minutes late, but none had arrived before 8.30am.
nKirklands general manager Peter Shepherd said the change went more smoothly than similar steps at Tamworth, Orange and Dubbo.
Mr Shepherd stood by com- ments, published in yesterday's Northern Star, that no jobs would be lost in the change, but driver John Loweke said the change had already ended his 16-year career with the company.
Mr Loweke said management told him he would get no more shifts and that a total of eight drivers would lose their shifts once the transition to the new routes and timetables was complete.
Mr Shepherd rejected the claim, saying that Mr Loweke was still an employee and that he had been told he would be needed at least another three weeks 'and then we'll see what happens'.
Mr Loweke, who worked as a casual driver on school bus runs, said he could speak out because he and his wife were financially secure.
Trinity College teacher Gary Evans, who supervises children at the bus interchange in the afternoons, said the new system did not work.
"We had kids crying ? primary school students who didn't know where they were going, who were missing soccer training because at 4.30pm they were still waiting for the bus," he said.
"The kids say they've been catching the same buses with the same drivers for three years and it's been great. Why try and fix it if it's not broken?"
Mr Shepherd said one key reason was to try to make the Lismore interchange safer by reducing the number of students there.
"There'd be at least 50 per cent fewer children being interchanged there today," he said.
"A lot of these changes were as a result of the problems down there. Often people forget."