Minister Foley must provide solution for the thousands of students left without school transport – Darren O’Rourke TD
Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, today called on the Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD, to urgently resolve the outstanding issues in the school bus transport system, following confirmation that 23,000 fewer children have been accommodated on the scheme this year compared to last.
Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Deputy O’Rourke said:
“We have consistently said that the school bus transport system needed additional resources to meet the new capacity requirements, but the government have failed to put this in place.
“Most schools are back a couple of weeks now, and thousands of children remain without a place on their school bus.
“Figures provided by the Minister herself show 97,000 pupils are currently accommodated on the school transport scheme including 26,200 on concessionary tickets. But we know that a total of 120,000 children were carried on the school bus transport scheme last year. This means 23,000 fewer children have been accommodated this year.
“The Minister told us that no child will miss out on a school bus seat, but these figures tell a very different story. The Minister is focussing entirely on those children who were eligible for the scheme and who had been allocated tickets before 4th August, but she is ignoring the thousands of children who would have been accommodated in previous years, either by way of concessionary ticket or on private/local services.
“This is completely unacceptable and is causing stress for parents who were relying on a school bus for their children in order to manage their own work commitments.
“The fleet needs to be dramatically increased to accommodate those thousands of children who are so far left without transport, and we need to plan ahead for future years.
“Parents face an annual uphill battle to get a place for their child on a school bus, and Covid has made things much worse this year, so we need to now address the wider problems in the system to make this vital service reliable and sustainable in the weeks, months and years ahead.”