I along with my colleagues in the Regional Group of TDs have today published our motion imploring the Government to address the mounting problems disrupting the school transport scheme. Their Dáil motion highlights the critical role of the school transport scheme in the lives of families and children and calls for immediate and comprehensive reform.
The Regional Group notes that the school transport scheme is recognised as an indispensable service for families and children across the country. It is pivotal in ensuring access to school for more than 149,000 children, including more than 18,000 children with special educational needs.
The Regional Group of TDs note the lack of access to public transport in rural areas and, therefore, the need for a fit-for-purpose school transport scheme for all students requiring transport to their nearest school, irrespective of distance.
“Our motion highlights the inadequacy of the current scheme to meet these objectives. They state there is an imperative need to reduce car journeys for environmental reasons and promote bus travel for school commutes. Still, there are continuing disruptions due to the non-availability of buses and poor compensation to private operators”.
“The challenges posed by an arbitrary age cap, hampering part-time drivers from participating, discrepancies in the allocation of concessionary tickets despite available seats, inadequate support for special needs children and late notifications that leave families to re-organise work at short notice which are posing serious problems for students, parents and schools”.
The Regional Group of TDs are calling upon the Government to take immediate action by:
• Ensuring that families issued with concessionary tickets in the past continue to benefit from the service.
• Fulfilling previous commitments regarding the provision of school transport services in the event of school closures.
• Allocating adequate funding in the 2024 Budget to significantly expand school transport services, thereby reducing the reliance on private car journeys.
• Releasing the school transport scheme review without delay.
• Ensuring that the school transport scheme is reformed to serve the needs of students and their families adequately.
“In our motion, the Regional Group of TDs note that the Government needs to address these urgent matters and ensure the school transport scheme remains a dependable and eco-friendly means of transportation for all students”.