THE School Transport Scheme review needs to be published urgently as many parents are still in the dark regarding their child’s bus place for September 2023, a local senator has said.
Fine Gael’s Seanad spokesperson on education Aisling Dolan, has joined local FG Sen Tim Lombard in calling for an expedition of the review.
Senator Dolan said the review began in February 2021 yet there is still no information on potential recommendations for the school transport programme for this year.
‘The initial ticket deadline last year was April 2022 so this year, proposed recommendations from the steering group review need agreement by the Minister and Department of Education, ideally in early February 2023.
Bus Éireann is integral in providing this service across towns and villages in Ireland and they need to plan ahead,’ said Sen Dolan.
‘We know the cost-of-living measures in 2022 to provide free access to those eligible for the school transport programme was extremely welcome with 121,400 children receiving a school bus ticket. However, it caused huge difficulties due to capacity issues, especially in regional areas with parents in dire situations and delays in allocation of tickets.’
She said the review will include an examination of the school transport scheme for children with special educational needs and the primary and post-primary school transport schemes and will look at eligibility criteria, trends, costs, and cost drivers, as well as overall effectiveness.
Early communication on the way the scheme will work is vital for parents and schools as soon as possible, said Sen Dolan.
Sen Lombard said that in December, the Minister for Education acknowledged a delay in the publishing of the review. ‘However, she also mentioned that we could anticipate the conclusion of the review “shortly”. It’s now more than a new year and we are still waiting on answers, he added.
‘Getting to school is part of the daily routine and of how communities operate in rural Ireland. Such disruption and uncertainty has put immense pressure on parents who are already facing cost of living challenges,’ said the senator.