Students losing out on bus places as school transport scheme remains up in the air – Smith

– Families fear they’ll lose the service as a result of changes to the scheme –

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has called on the Education Minister to urgently clarify the situation regarding the school transport scheme.  A review of the scheme has been ongoing for a number of months, and parents are worried that their children will miss out on places as a result of new changes.

Deputy Smith explained, “I have had a number of parents contacting me, anxious that their children will not get a place on the school bus this year.  Students who previously were allocated concessionary seats are particularly worried, while others fear they may lose out because of changes to the school bus route.

“Some families across Cavan and Monaghan are still waiting to hear whether students have secured a place on the school bus for the new term, which starts next week.  This is a major source of anxiety for those who have seen alterations to the route, or who had concessionary seats last year and are unsure whether they’ll qualify this year.

“I’ve even heard of cases whereby some students are facing the prospect of moving schools because they are not being allocated seats on their school bus route.  This is a deeply unfair situation which is only adding to the anxiety and stress that these families are already under.  We need to ensure that anyone who is entitled to a place on a school bus is allocated one and I am urging Ministers Bruton and Halligan to allow common sense to prevail.

“The school transport scheme is an essential part of school life in rural communities 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.

“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 needs to ensure that the assurances he gave about places on the School Transport Scheme earlier this year are upheld – and I along with my party colleagues will be keeping the pressure on him and Minister Bruton so that every child who is entitled to a seat on the school bus has one”.