Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, today called on Ministers Eamon Ryan TD and Norma Foley TD, to prioritise resolving the continuing problems in the school transport system.
His comments come as information from the Department of Education show additional funding of between €87m and €135m will be needed to address the capacity issues in the system.
Speaking today, Teachta O’Rourke said:
“Since mid-August we have been calling for the government to urgently address the shortage of school transport places this year due to the social distancing requirements.
“We’re now into October and thousands of children have been left without seats on their school buses, which is causing huge problem for families trying to balance work or caring commitments with school drop off and pick up times.
“This is particularly acute in rural Ireland, where walking or cycling often isn’t an option and families can’t now share lifts with neighbours given the prevalence of Covid-19 in our communities.
“Bus Éireann have been working continuously to try and accommodate as many extra students as possible, but without political backing they are struggling to meet the demand.
“Information from the Department of Education has confirmed that the estimated full year cost to operate all services at 50% capacity is between €87m and €135m, with an estimated requirement for an additional 1,600 drivers and vehicles and 650 additional School Bus Escorts.
“The Ministers for Education and Transport need to prioritise delivering this funding to ensure all children on the school transport scheme will get a school bus seat soon.
“The capacity issues in the system are causing huge problems for families, and parents and students cannot afford any more delays in this area.”