Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport Darren O’Rourke TD has called on the Minister for Education to ensure that solutions are found for all children who avail of school bus transport, despite Covid-19 loading restrictions.
Further to news reports of a full service for 200 students being scrapped in Kildare, the Meath East TD said the commitment to ensure a service for everyone must particularly extend to children at higher risk, children on concessionary tickets and children who avail of private services.
“The case at Confey College in Leixlip, where 200 students have been left without school transport after a private provider quit the route due to Covid-19 restrictions, is unfortunately not an isolated one. In my own county of Meath, a full route from Skryne to Navan, catering for some 30 children, looks like it will be lost. In Moynalvey a full cohort of first year students have been denied a place on the local bus. There is a shortage of places on many other routes elsewhere in Meath. It is the same elsewhere in the country.
“The school bus transport system is an essential part of getting schools re-opened safely and keeping them opened. The 50% ruling came at short notice, but it is simply unacceptable to ignore vast swathes of the system as the government are currently doing. The Department have a medium-term solution for State services – get to 50% over the coming weeks – but they have no solution for private services and they have no solution for children on concessionary tickets. This is completely unacceptable. They need to get their heads out of the sand.
“This week, I raised these issues directly with the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan, with Bus Éireann, and with Dublin Bus and the NTA. This week, I will raise them with the Minister for Education in the Dáil.
“It is essential that she comes prepared with a solution for the whole of the school transport system, not just part of it. This is particularly the case for children with underlying health conditions, children on concessionary tickets and children who avail of private services. Chaos at the school gates awaits if she doesn’t.”