Smith – Solution must be found to outstanding school transport issues

Local Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has said a solution must be found for families left without school transport services.

Deputy Smith told the Dáil this week that many families in Cavan and Monaghan have been having issues accessing school bus places.

He called for qualified and fit drivers aged 70 and over to be allowed to take roles in a bid to address the shortage of drivers.  

Despite an increase in the number of school bus tickets issued this year, there are still difficulties for many families through the lack of a bus service or the lack of capacity on existing routes,” Deputy Smith told the Dáil. 

”Some routes were handed back at the last minute by contractors in many instances because of a shortage of drivers.”

Deputy Smith raised school transport issues in the Dáil last April. He called for Bus Éireann to review its policy not to employ qualified and fit drivers aged 70 or over. 

He reiterated that plea in the Dáil this week saying a case could be made for drivers to carry out short-term work while undergoing regular medical checks.

“This policy needs to be reviewed. We need services on all approved school bus routes. Schools have now been open again for almost a month and in some instances in some parishes, there are no school transport services,” he added.

Minister Darragh O’Brien in response said the review of the school transport scheme is nearing completion. 

“That needs to be done urgently and I have engaged with the Minister for Education, Deputy Foley, on the issue,” Minister O’Brien said. ”Even though we are investing more in school transport now, some students are not able to access buses to their local schools and that is something that needs to be rectified.”

He added: “We need to be inventive. Many people who are 70 years or older are very fit and well capable of carrying out those jobs. It makes eminent sense for them to be able to continue to do those jobs.”