Commitment to maintain school bus routes welcome – Carol Nolan TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education and Skills, Teachta Carol Nolan, has welcomed the commitment by the Minister of State John Halligan in the Dáil today that there will be no downsizing of current school bus routes.
Teachta Nolan was speaking during questions to the Minister in relation to the recently published school transport review. Teachta Nolan said: “I welcome the commitment by the Minister of State that there would be no planned downsizing of bus routes as a result of the school transport review.
“The review of the school transport scheme was a huge disappointment and failed completely to deal with the issues affecting communities on the ground. “The reality is that the changes imposed by the Value for Money Review in 2011 are not workable in many instances and I expressed these concerns very clearly to the Minister during the course of the review.
“I sent a comprehensive submission to the Minister and I also brought a number of parents to meet with him to outline the impact the scheme is having on their lives during the review process.
“Unfortunately, it appears that this was ignored by the Minister of State who, frankly, is more concerned with the issues in his own constituency than those that affect thousands of school children across this state.
“The fact that almost 7,000 children applied for school bus tickets but were refused and that the number of pupils travelling on concessionary tickets has risen to 25,000 shows clearly that the eligibility rules are too rigid. “The reality is that this is an issue that affects every county and last year we witnessed hundreds of students being informed at the 11th hour that they would not be receiving a bus ticket to the school that they had been travelling to for years.“All the evidence suggests, with a growing school age population and no increase in school transport funding, that this issue will be even worse in the coming school term.
“I have asked Minister Halligan to examine this issue again and I will continue to raise it in every available forum until an appropriate solution is found.”