Sinn Féin have called on the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan TD, to ensure that the bus fleet is significantly increased so that schoolchildren are not left without a place on the bus.
Sinn Féin Transport spokesperson Darren O’Rourke TD, and Education spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, were speaking after the reopening of the online school transport portal.
Speaking today from Leinster House, Teachta O Rourke TD said:
“The reopening of the school transport portal on the Bus Éireann website is welcome but must be backed up by further action from this government.
“We need to go beyond just trying to meet current numbers with social distancing on school buses. There needs to be greater overall ambition in this area.
“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 this 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.
Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD continued:
“We cannot have children left behind without transport to school.
“Adequate school transport and well managed, safe buses are essential ingredients in ensuring that schools now remain open during this pandemic.
“The Department of Education have been way behind the curve, only acknowledging in the week schools reopened that there was a need to increase capacity and the fleet.
“I know parents have been frustrated that the portal was closed, and that option cut off, especially given so much uncertainty had existed connected to school reopening over the summer.
“So, I welcome that it is now reopened, but that is only going to work if the fleet is also increased.
“Half measures are no good here, the Departments of Education and Transport, along with Bus Éireann, need to put an end to the chaos in the school transport system.”