Sinn Féin TD for Cavan Monaghan Pauline Tully, today called on the Ministers for Transport and Education to add capacity to the school bus transport system this year, to meet the huge demand for the service and to account for the 50% Covid-19 capacity restrictions.
The Sinn Féin TD said;
“Every year demand outstrips supply on the school bus transport scheme by tens of thousands of students.
“Last year alone 26,329 children were left without a seat on their local school bus.
“Instead of harnessing this demand, which can deliver significant benefits for families and the climate, the government sit on their hands and let the situation repeat itself, year after year.
“My colleagues and I have been contacted by hundreds of parents in recent days who are livid at the system and desperate to get a bus seat for their child. Parents are been contacted just days before their child is due to return to school to be told that there is no seat for the child on the bus.
“Many parents rely on the school transport system to balance their work commitments or family caring needs.
“This year the situation is even worse due to Covid-19 and it’s clear the government have failed to secure enough providers to deal with the 50% capacity rule that remains in place.
“It looks certain at this stage that more children than ever will miss out on a school bus seat this year. This is a direct result of the Government’s lack of planning.
“It’s simply not good enough.
“The need for the expansion of the transport scheme with government Ministers repeatedly during the year, but it’s clear nothing was done has been raised time and time again by Darren O’Rourke Sinn Féin spokesperson for Transport.
“Minister Foley told us that the ‘nearest school’ rule would be scrapped to be replaced with a ‘nearest and next nearest’ rule, but this hasn’t happened.
“It’s imperative the Ministers for Transport and Education recognise the impact all of this will have on families. The situation is worse than any other year. The Ministers must intervene to add capacity to the system this year.
“Sinn Féin recently launched our plans to radically expand the school transport scheme, recognising the huge benefits it can deliver. It is extremely disappointing that the Government does not share this objective.”