The school bus service is no longer fit for purpose and needs to be completely overhauled as a matter of urgency.
“For a second year running parents and students are left without school bus tickets and are only receiving notification of this as children prepare to go back to school. Students are again without tickets even though they received tickets in previous years.
I also have parents contacting me to say that whilst they have been issued with bus tickets, they are now being told that there is no bus or driver available. I have also learned that bus Eireann is cutting back the hours of their own drivers in favour of private operators despite a shortage of drivers.
The Minister for Education has got to intervene and sort out this mess for hundreds of families. I understand that there is a review taking place, but this review is ongoing for nearly 3 years and in the meantime the situation is getting worse.
We have instances where a school bus pulls up outside a family home to pick up students but the family have no tickets for the bus. I also had the situation where Bus Eireann are cutting back drivers’ hours at a time they should be increasing them to deal with the demand. There are also instances where bus tickets have been issued but there is no bus available.
It is time for a change in attitude and for every child to be accommodated on a school bus. We now have full employment and parents need to have certainty in terms of school transport.
The time has come for the Department to deliver in the long overdue review of the school transport system and put in place a system which will bring all students to school who need the service and maximise the use of the buses that are available.