School bus operators on verge of collapse due to lack of support - Darren O’Rourke TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport Darren O’Rourke TD has said that urgent action needs to be taken to support school bus operators who are struggling to keep their vehicles on the road due to soaring fuel prices.
The Meath East TD said:
“The rising cost of fuel has pushed school transport operators to the brink. A support package needs to be put in place to help keep them on the road.
“120,000 children use the school bus transport scheme, with 90% of journeys carried out by private bus operators.
“We should be encouraging and expanding school bus transport, as it is the most environmentally friendly method of school transport, but private operators, who are central to it, have been forgotten by the government.
“While hauliers are now receiving a weekly support payment of €100 per vehicle, school bus operators have been inexplicitly excluded from this scheme, despite facing the exact same challenge.
“This needs to be rectified.
“Most operators have absorbed the huge rise in fuel costs, as their contracts do not have fuel variation clauses.
“The industry has said this is totally unsustainable given record increases in diesel prices.
“The Oireachtas Transport Committee heard evidence this week that 95% of school transport operators are unable to guarantee service provision up until the end of the academic year in June.
“Three Ministers – Transport, Education and Finance – have clear responsibility here. They must intervene. A targeted support package for school bus operators is essential during this challenging time. Time is of the essence.”