Last Minute School Bus Fiasco Leaves Students on the Side of the Road - Tóibín
The Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has said that students in his constituency will be left at the side of the road unless urgent capacity is added to school transport.
Speaking today, Deputy Tóibín said:
"My office has been inundated with queries on school transport. We have a student in Athboy who've applied twice for a seat on a school bus but haven't heard anything back. There are students who are being told that they'll have to walk 1.2 km to get a bus to school in Trim - their closest school - but would be offered a bus outside their doors to a further away school. There are students in Longwood / Killoyan who don't have public transport - only a private bus for which they have to pay €50 per week - the parents of these students should be reimbursed by the Department."
Deputy Tóibín continued: "There are about ten children on the Kilmessan route who still don't have places on the bus. We see this happening every single year, but the government seem to be slow learners. I've written to Bus Éireann about each of these cases. It is unacceptable that parents and students were only informed days before returning back to school”.
One parent from Delvin whose child attends St Finian’s College, Mullingar and pay private coach firm each week to bring the student to school and back. Approximately 50 other students use this service too in order to attend secondary schools in Mullingar as Bus Éireann does not service this route. This year the family will pay the private coach form €30 per week, amounting to over €900 per year. This is at a time when cost of living expenses are excruciatingly high and other Bus Éireann users will get this service free."
There are also many students locally who have still not yet received their bus tickets and have started back school to school already. Some bus drivers have taken them anyway as they didn't want to see anyone stuck, but does that leave them open to liability if anything happens now. Parents are spending hours on the phone on and off trying to get through to the School Transport section but without success. When they eventually do get through they are being told there is no phone line for the Athlone office which deals with their queries and they can’t be provided with updates”.
Tóibín says there needs to be a systems of fairness and greater efficiency in ensuring enough school buses and drivers are in place to avoid last minute panic, and the Minister for Education needs to get her act together on this as we can’t see a repeat of this scenario year in year out”.