YOU?VE GOT ONE WEEK
By SAMANTHA TURNBULL
KIRKLANDS risks losing its Northern Rivers school-bus service contract unless problems with its new timetable are fixed by Friday.
The ultimatum was given to the company yesterday by Director-General of the Ministry of Transport, John Lee, who described the timetable change as the worst he had seen.
"I've never witnessed a timetable change more controversial or as negatively received as this," he said.
"We've made it clear to Kirklands they'll be required to have improvements to the timetable implemented within a week. If not, their contract will be under review or terminated."
An act of Parliament passed last year gives Mr Lee the authority to terminate the contract of any school bus service provider in the state, if it fails to comply with standards set by the government.
Kirklands' general manager, Peter Shepherd, said the timetable changes ? which were introduced almost three weeks ago ? were designed to ease congestion.
However, Mr Lee criticised Kirklands for failing to carry out adequate public consultation before it introduced the changes.
"They've realised they did make an error and they've given us a 100 per cent guarantee they will fix the inherent problems of the timetable," he said.
The chief executive officer of Kirklands' parent company Buslines, Peter Ferris, yesterday issued a statement saying the problems would be resolved by Friday.
"Kirklands recognises that the introduction of the revised services has not proceeded as well as expected and will make every endeavour to consult with key stakeholders early next week to resolve the outstanding issues," he said.
Mr Shepherd also vowed to work tirelessly to improve the new timetable by the government's deadline.
Mr Lee said terminating the company's contract was a drastic measure.
"It would be a big step to think about them not having the contract anymore because it would mean they weren't prepared to improve the timetable, but I don't think that's the case.
"I got the impression they are in solution-mode."
Meetings between Kirklands, parents and teachers will be organised early next week in an attempt to improve timetables.