School Transport problems escalating year on year - Senator Rose Conway-Walsh
Mayo Senator Rose Conway-Walsh has said that many of the problems associated with school transport at this time of year are escalating from previous years, showing the Government's responses to be utterly unacceptable.
Senator Conway-Walsh said;
"Once again we are faced with the near annual problem of schoolchildren left without places on school transport. May of these children were fully paid up by the deadline and are only being informed that they have no place on school transport, weeks before returning to school.
"The cost of back to school was highlighted in a survey result yesterday which shows a 5.5% increase in back to school costs across the State. Added to this is the worry that a child will not get a place on a school bus when their siblings attending the same school have a place already.
"We also have cases where students are only now deciding that they are going to repeat the Leaving Certificate yet they are being told that they are too late to apply for a place on school transport for this year. These students have taken a difficult decision and should be supported in every way possible as they seek to return to school.
"I am asking Minister Halligan for clarity regarding extra places on buses for concessionary ticket holders. I want to know who takes the decision not to hire a larger bus to allow all students that had places on bus routes in previous years not to be left out this year.
"Very often it is not just the child who is affected but the entire family. Parents are forced into changing their work hours, or worse, giving up work entirely. This is a very serious issue in rural areas and I would like it to be addressed immediately.
"Rural Ireland without a school bus service is disastrous for families that live there. It is in this regard that Minister Michael Ring has a special responsibility as Minister for Rural and Community Development to ensure that his voice at cabinet is heard on this issue."