Cllr Sarah O'Reilly: “600 Students in Cavan, Monaghan and Louth won’t get Bus tickets this year”
Bus Eireann have confirmed to Aontú Cllr for Cavan, Sarah O’Reilly, that 600 students in counties Cavan, Monaghan and Louth will not get bus tickets this year. Cllr O’Reilly has criticised Minister Norma Foley for the mess that is the lack of capacity in the post primary school transport system.
Cllr O’Reilly said: “At the end of day, it is a simple mathematical equation that was sign-posted from last August when Public Health advice dictated a reduction in bus capacity by 50% on last year’s capacity of 100% for all post primary school buses. If you add the current lack of private providers left in the market due to its collapse, then alarm bells should have been sounding in the Department of Education. It was painfully evident that this mess was coming down the road. I would be very surprised and disappointed if it was found that Minister Norma Foley knowingly allowed this to happen without trying to mitigate against the massive fall-out for families. A miscalculated blunder or lack of forward planning of this magnitude is holy unacceptable, leaving hundreds of families totally stranded. I hope that the Minister has advocated on behalf of students and their families to NPHET for a common-sense increase in bus capacity and if she is not successful, she must take charge herself!”
“An excess of 600 students in Counties Cavan, Monaghan and Louth will not receive tickets this year, this is mainly due to medical card delays before the deadline date and application numbers exceeding the number of seats available on buses, the later stemming from the 50% reduction in capacity on post primary school buses, a decision based on NPHET’s advice. The situation is extremely upsetting for families, I myself had representation from parents and Family Support advocacy groups detailing the undue distress this is causing to families. Many who availed of the concessionary bus tickets last year are only finding out this week that they have not been successful. It is very short notice for parents and schools who were making final preparations for the return of students next week only to have to make alternative arrangements at this late stage. Students have had to deal with more than enough upset in their lives in recent times.”
“It is difficult for parents to understand why 100% capacity on post primary transport was acceptable last year, yet it is not acceptable this year. Evidence to date shows that most children aged 12 to 17 who get COVID-19 have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. The risk of a child being hospitalised because of COVID-19 is low, and the risk of any child needing intensive care treatment is extremely rare”.
“If we are to believe that the reasoning behind the decision is for the safety of our children, then I would question why capacity on Public Transport is allowed at 75% knowing the effects of Covid19 on Adults, it makes no sense in this age of trying to reduce our carbon footprint and caring for the environment it is very difficult to understand how we can stand idly by and watch half empty busses trundling past followed by a queue of cars filled with students who were not picked up by that same bus! There is a very simple way to resolve this, The Minister must question the reasoning for NPHET’s decision and demand the evidence and data that back it up. The government or NPHET (whoever is in charge) must immediately resume full capacity on post primary school buses without delay in order to give peace of mind to suffering families.” Concluded Cllr O’Reilly.