Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport Darren O’Rourke TD has said that the government needs to overhaul the School Transport Scheme and fix the consistent problems faced by parents and open the scheme up to thousands of more students.
Questioning the Minister for Education in the Dáil this morning, the Meath East TD said:
“The School Transport Scheme currently carries 114,000 students to primary and secondary schools across the state.
“In a way, the scheme is a victim of its own success, as each year it is oversubscribed with parents facing an annual battle to try and get a seat on the bus for their child.
“Many students don’t get a seat on the basis of not attending the nearest school to them or due to an inadequate number of children in the immediate locality to warrant a route.
“We think the current criteria are too strict and inflexible.
“The unpredictable nature of concessionary tickets from year to year is very unhelpful for parents trying to plan work and family life.
“I was disappointed by Minister Foley’s response to me in the Dáil this morning on this. She said that the government is planning on providing just 1,800 extra eligible places in the next year.
“It is unclear whether these are actually extra places or simply recategorizing eligible and concessionary ticket holders. Either way, this plan is pitiful and completely inadequate.
“Sinn Féin wants to see this system radically expanded.
“By expanding this scheme, we can take thousands of car journeys off the road daily, helping to decrease carbon emissions and reduce dangerous traffic congestion outside schools, while also providing parents and guardians with a convenient method of transport for their children.
“My colleague, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, and I recently ran an online survey to get the feedback of parents about the current system.
“The hundreds of responses received highlighted numerous issues that people want addressed. These views will inform a policy paper we will bring forward in the coming weeks with proposals to expand and comprehensively reform this important scheme.”