Almost 20,000 students could be affected by Department’s plan to downsize school buses – Nolan
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education and Skills, Deputy Carol Nolan, has today called for a commitment from the Minister for Education Richard Bruton that the School Transport system will not be further restricted. The Deputy was commenting on an extract from the Minister’s Brief, which appears to indicate that the availability of concessionary school transport would be restricted by efforts of the Department to downsize buses.
Deputy Nolan said:
“The figures provided by civil servants in the Minister’s brief show clearly the impact of the cuts to the school transport system.
“There are 1,946 less students availing of the school transport service overall in 2014/15 compared to 2011/12 despite a growing student population.
“The number of children availing of concessionary transport has risen to a staggering 18,688 students in 2014/15 compared to 4,854 in 2011/12.
“Concessionary school transport is granted to students who are ineligible under the current scheme where there is spare capacity on buses.
“This clearly shows that the current rules are not meeting the needs of parents, students or their communities as a significant proportion of children are choosing to attend the traditional school that other members of their families or communities attend.
“The Department’s response, to threaten to downsize buses required to transport eligible children to commence on a phased basis from the coming school year 2016/17, is a cynical attempt to reduce costs.
“Rural communities in particular rely heavily on the school transport system and any attempts to restrict it would have a serious impact and I am calling on the Minister to make a commitment that there will be no further restrictions to the school transport service.”