Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says no child will lose their seat under the School Transport Scheme as a result of a review which has been undertaken by the Department of Education. Junior Minister John Halligan gave the assurance to Fianna Fáil Education Spokesperson Thomas Byrne when questioned in Dáil last week.
Deputy Smith commented, “Since the announcement of this review, parents have been contacting me anxious that their children may lose their seat on the school bus. Many have been left in the dark about the situation and they’ve become increasingly worried that their kids may lose their place on the bus come September. This scheme is an essential part of school life in rural communities across Cavan and Monaghan, and the uncertainty that has been allowed build up over the past few months has been a major source of stress for students and parents alike.
“The Department’s handling of this review has been less than satisfactory. From the start, its main aim was to reduce the number of “concessionary” seats available by encouraging Bus Éireann to use smaller buses. Many students rely on these concessionary seats to get to school – these are pupils who do not live far enough away from their school to qualify for the scheme but who have been allowed to take school transport if there were spare seats on the bus.
“Fianna Fáil has always fully recognised the important role of the School Transport Scheme and consistently raised concerns when the review was first announced. We should be encouraging the use of school transport, not penalising people who want to sign up to it.
“Minister Halligan’s guarantee that no child will lose their place on the school bus as a result of his department’s review is a welcome development. I, along with colleagues, will continue to keep the pressure on him and Minister Bruton to ensure that this promise is not reneged on”.