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Education Authority warns of school bus driver shortage

FOLLOWING chaos at the start of the school year, when hundreds of Fermanagh children were left with no bus to school due to driver shortages, the Education Authority (EA) has warned the shortages are continuing.
At the start of this school year there was widespread disruption across the county when many routes were cancelled. At the time the EA stated this was due to ‘operational issues’ but this week it informed the local Council problems were stemming from driver shortages.
In a letter that was due to be delivered to the Council’s policy and resources committee meeting last night (Wednesday) Dale Hanna from the EA responded to local concerns that had been raised by councillors regarding the disruption.
Mr Hanna said: “I want to assure you that we have been working extremely hard to maintain service delivery throughout Covid. There is, however, an industry wide shortage of drivers and our staffing team and operators continue to be affected by community transmission of Covid-19.”
Mr Hanna said the EA had “a number of contingency measures in place,” including the redeployment of qualified drivers from other EA roles, ongoing recruitment, and the launch of a new emergency cover register.
“These measure have been fully utilised and so, while it is disappointing when we cannot operate a service, this has only been the case for a very small number of routes across our entire network.”
Schools and families can check of any upcoming disruption on at www.eani.org.uk/news/transport-updates. At the time of going to print, no local services were listed on the page.
Last month, local Cllr Sheamus Greene, who is a school bus driver himself, said the issue of driver shortages had been building for years, and pre-dated the Covid pandemic.

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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