I have challenged the Minister for Education to make timely decisions in February on how she wants the School Transport to operate from September 2023.
“These decisions are required now to allow for the Schools Transport Unit in Bus Eireann to plan properly for the next year. The Minister needs to avoid the mayhem that ensued last August when she made late decisions which caused so much stressed to parents and pupils and the negative outcome is still being experienced by families right across the country”.
The School Transport Scheme is a significant operation managed by Bus Eireann on behalf of the Department of Education. In the current school year, over 147,900 children, including over 18,000 children with special educational needs, are transported on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country. Bus operators, drivers and Bus Eireann cannot be put into the same predicament next September
In addition, school transport scheme services are being provided in the current school year for over 3,800 children who have arrived to Ireland from Ukraine. This figure will grow substantially by next September.
“A review of the School Transport Scheme commenced in February 2021. The review is being conducted with a view to examining the current scheme, its broader effectiveness and sustainability, and to ensure that it serves students and their families adequately. This review is going on for far too long without any improvement in the system.”
“The Minister replied to me in the Dáil that planning for the operation of the school transport scheme for the 2023/24 is expected to be completed shortly. I am not convinced that the Minister fully appreciates the extent of confusion, stress and anger that prevails in families as a result of last years mess and this cannot be repeated next September”.