Funchion outlines measures to tackle School Transport problems
Speaking today while publishing Sinn Féin’s proposals to tackle escalating School Transport System problems, party Education spokesperson Kathleen Funchion TD said that by implementing recommended actions the current School Transport System would be made more flexible, workable and affordable.
The Carlow-Kilkenny TD said:
“Our school transport scheme is a critical service, facilitating students in accessing their education. It is particularly important for rural communities, who rely heavily on the service for their children to arrive to the school gates. There have been a number of issues and concerns raised by parents in respect of recent changes to the school transport in recent years. Policy changes introduced by Fianna Fáil and implemented by Fine Gael and Labour has resulted in huge and unfair changes in the service for communities.
“Between 2008 and 2014, expenditure on the School Transport Scheme reduced from €185.725 million to €172.2 million.
“Children are currently facing uncertainty entering into the start of this school year. Parents feel exasperated being told their child has no place on a school bus at such short notice at a time when stability is needed so that students can begin their new term on a positive note. It is wrong to put children through this and detrimental to their school experience.
“It is also entirely unacceptable to put the onus on bus services to resolve the issues. This is a policy issue that needs to be changed.
“We in Sinn Féin believe the following changes should be implemented:
“Amendments to the scheme:
- Address the need for certainty for students and their families in securing transport by providing supports to current concessionary ticket holders for the duration of their education
- Address the need for Children to maintain their Identity and Social Links to their local area by providing for a derogation from the nearest school rule where this can be justified as a result of established community or social links
- Address the need for increased efficiency in delivery of services by allowing students who live on or near existing bus routes to be allowed travel on those routes where there is capacity
“Administration of the Scheme:
- Eliminate the “lottery” system for concessionary students and establish clear guidelines in determining how concessionary seats are distributed when necessary.
“Reduce Costs for Parents and Children
- Include additional investment of €13 million to provide for the €2 million medical card waiver and the €10.8 million required at current figures to provide free school transport to all eligible children.
- Provide an additional €6 million to reduce school transport charges for concessionary ticket holders.”
Note: Please see the document in question attached