August 30, 2022
Minister for Education must come before Oireachtas Committee urgently to solve School Transport Crisis – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD and Darren O’Rourke TD

Sinn Féin TDs Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire & Darren O’Rourke have today written to the chair of the Oireachtas Committees on Education and Transport calling for the Minister for Education and representatives of Bus Éireann to come before a joint sitting of the committees at the earliest possible juncture to seek solutions to the crisis emerging across the state. 

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said:

“Across the state parents who have relied for years on School Bus Transport are pulling their hair out. There is a gross unfairness that parents who applied on time, have been getting the bus for years, have been leapfrogged here in many respects. 

“Our offices have been inundated with calls from parents desperate to get a seat for their child. The Minister should have anticipated that there would be increased demand. She should have worked with Bus Éireann to find additional capacity to meet this demand. Sinn Féin has repeatedly called for 10,000 additional places on School Bus Transport. 

“Expanding School Transport is a no brainer, it reduces traffic, emissions, and makes life easier and cheaper for families. But we need Minister Foley to have a vision for this. 

“This is a failure of Government planning.  

“The Minister must intervene urgently. She should instruct Bus Éireann to look within it’s own and the private bus sector’s resources to expand capacity to ensure that no child is left without a seat.

“We want to work with the Minister to find solutions, so no child is left without a seat, and we are calling for her to meet with the Education and Transport Committee as soon as possible, not when the Dáil is back but in the next week.” 

Speaking today, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport Darren O’Rourke TD warned that the Government’s failure to plan adequately is causing enormous problems for families and communities and across the state. 

He said:

“Thousands of families who had relied for years and years on school transport, who had built their routine around them, have now been denied a place on the bus for the first time.

“This has been cause by the failure to expand capacity on the School Transport Scheme. There are parents out there who are unsure how they can get their children to school, whether they will need to drop hours at work. Lots of parents feel like they need to figure out how to be in two places at once. This uncertainty is unfair and unacceptable. It was also totally avoidable if the government had planned and prepared appropriately.

“These families totally depend on the school bus. They should not be left high and dry. The opportunity exists to transform the school commute and to make this a really positive story. 

“We need the Minister and Bus Éireann to come before a joint sitting of the Education and Transport Committees, so we can urgently find solutions. We have today written to both Committee Chairs, Paul Kehoe and Kieran O’Donnell seeking a meeting urgently; this should be in the next week.”