“They want my son to travel 58 miles by bus to go to class”

The voice of Galicia

30/12/2020 13:41 h

Eva Reboredo’s son lives six kilometers from his school. One of the taxis licensed in the municipality of Folgoso do Courel picks you up every day at the door of your house and travels the six kilometers from your village of Liarias to the Seoane school. The new school transport contract that the Ministry of Education intends to apply will force him to do almost 60 kilometers every day. Nail two hundred people demonstrated this Wednesday in Folgoso in protest at the implementation of the new transportation system. They claim that not only will the service worsen, but it may also put local taxi drivers out of work.

“Loitar polo noso school transport also loitar by keeping our life not Courel”, said Pilar Veiga, the president of the association of parents of students of the local school, in the statement that read before the participants in the protest. Convened by the association of parents of the school, this first mobilization in defense of the current school transport system took place in front of the City Hall in Folgoso and began at eleven in the morning. Among the attendees the majority of families with school-age children, but there were also the seven active taxi drivers in the municipality, who are currently in charge of school transport, and neighbors in general, worried about what they consider a new setback for a mountain municipality already very accustomed to cuts in services .

First moments of the rally, which was held in front of the Folgoso Town Hall

Among them were representatives of all political forces. In Folgoso do Courel the PP governs with an absolute majority and the City Council supports the demands of the parents. Also the political forces that are in opposition. The local spokesmen of Courel Vivo and PSOE. Scar Carrete and Carmen Álvarez were at the rally, as were BNG deputy Carmen Aira and Rosana Prieto, the regional responsible for this formation in Monforte. The mayor, Lola Castro, helped collect signatures of support after the protest at a table set up by the organizers at the entrance of the City Hall.

What all claim is that the Ministry of Education stop the tender for the school transport service in this municipality, in operation since last day 15. They do not oppose the renewal of the contract, which has not been touched for no less than thirty years, but it is consumed under the conditions established by the councilor. With these rules, they say, it is impossible for the taxi drivers of Folgoso do Courel to even present an offer and thus aspire to continue doing this job.

Javier Castro is one of those taxi drivers. He hadn’t started work when the taxis took over the school bus. It was in the 1980s, when the two schools in this municipality opened and at that time things were very different. Between the two centers, one in Folgoso and the other in Seoane, there were close to two hundred schoolchildren.. Today in Seoane’s they don’t reach fifty. Thirty years ago, school transportation in this municipality was of no interest to any bus company because the roads were worse and there was hardly any means to keep them clean during the harsh winters of O Courel. In a way, at that time the taxi drivers took the chestnuts out of the fire from the educational authorities. They took over a complicated service to manage and at a time when they did not need it. “Daquela -explains Javier Castro- nasaldeas there were a lot of people and few cars, but now the opposite happens“. The taxi drivers assure that with normal trips they do not have enough to continue working. Now I know they need school transport. Without that, they warn, Folgoso do Courel can also be without taxis.

The parents’ association of the Seoane school, which bears the name of the poet Uxo Novoneyra, demands a new tender and that it be only for the municipality of Folgoso do Courel. The one that the council has just started puts this municipality in a lot in which Pobra do Brolln, Bveda, Ribas de Sil and an institute in Monforte are also located. And premium to aspiring companies that have their own base, but not in Folgoso, but in Monforte.

The families of the students, who also have the backing of the school’s teaching staff, also demand that the new specifications respect the current six lines. Because the contest now underway reduces them to four, which will necessarily be longer than the current ones. In the association they maintain that the line design contained in the current specification contains errors and that there will be children who spend more than an hour on the bus before arriving at school, something that is prohibited by law.

Routes that will now reach even Pedrafita do Cebreiro

This is the case of Eva Reboredo’s son, who lives with his family in the village of Liarias. Located in the parish of Esperante, this town is north of the municipality of Folgoso, in the same area as the Seoane school. The taxi that covers its line will now pick you up at the door of your house. The new system puts his stop half a kilometer from his home and the child, who is 4 years old, will be transferred to school in a minibus that before leaving the school will leave the limits of the municipality of Folgoso and go to Pedrafita do Cebreiro. What is now 12 daily round-trip kilometers will become 58.

And his case is not the worst. There is a stop before yours, in the village of Romeor, which adds up to even more kilometers. “What they want to do is outrageous,” Eva Reboredo sums up. “A 4-year-old boy and they pretend to do almost sixty miles and spend hours on the bus every day,” he complains, “plus eight at school.”

Francisco Albo

Taxis that cover the school transport service in the municipality of Folgoso do Courel, next to the Poeta Ux school

Taxis covering the school transport service in the municipality of Folgoso do Courel, next to the school Poeta Uxo Novoneyra

They affirm that the new hiring proposed by the Xunta will leave the municipality’s taxi drivers unemployed and harm the students of the local school

The faculty of the Poeta Uxo Novoneyra school ruled for the cancellation or modification of the batch of the school transport contract that affects Folgoso do Courel considering that, as stated, leave the municipality’s transporters without work and mean a deterioration of the service for the students. For the same reason, the school leader will organize a protest rally next Wednesday, at eleven o’clock in the morning.

According to the system proposed by the Ministry of Education, school transport is divided into a series of lots to which a company or a group of companies can choose. The lot in which Folgoso do Courel is framed – which bears the number 27 – also includes the municipalities of A Pobra do Brolln, Bveda, O Incio and Ribas de Sil, as well as the Davia Rey de Monforte institute. The teachers point out that currently the school transport service in Folgoso do Courel is run by autonomous taxi drivers residing in the municipality who do not have the material means to carry or transport five more councils. The hiring proposed by the councilor – they affirm – makes it impossible for these people to continue their work in school transport, which would have caused not only an economic loss for each of the taxi drivers, but the closure of this economic activity for them, losing the council jobs and taxi service. Likewise, teachers point out that Lot 27 includes six municipalities, but priority is given to having a base in Monforte de Lemos, with which any self-employed person or company of Folgoso do Courel already at a disadvantage with any company or self-employed person in the municipality of Monforte.

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