Commuting crisis coming down the tracks for students
Labour Kildare South Senator Mark Wall has called for a price reduction for students’ travel fare in recognition of the student accommodation crisis. Calling for an extension to the short hop zone, Senator Wall said this would help ease the financial burden of the many students who are commuting a long distance due to a lack of affordable accommodation.
Senator Wall said:
“The student accommodation crisis is a symptom of larger failings in the government’s strategy to deal with the housing crisis and it is having massive consequences in students’ lives. My office has been inundated with stories from students who are paying a phenomenal amount commuting to college. Many of these students had plans to move out of home and into the city, but due to the dearth in student accommodation, they have to stay at home and take the train. This should be good news for them – staying at home is an opportunity to save. However, the problem is that stations like Portarlington, Monasterevin, Athy, Kildare town and Newbridge are outside the short hop zone and the students cannot use their Leap cards.
“For example, one student from Monasterevin contacted me to say they are paying €20 for their train ticket and €7 on a bus every day to get to college. So, instead of saving, he is paying over €100 per week, he might as well be staying in Dublin. We need to look at a mechanism where these students who are staying at home can use their Leap cards and are not forced to pay the full fare.
“The delay in the first installment of the SUSI grant is also having a huge impact on students commuting. One student from Newbridge told me she is paying €288 for a monthly train ticket to Dublin. Under the SUSI grant she is due €320, but this hasn’t kicked in yet, so she is already out of pocket and the year has just started. In a year where seasonal work was unprecedently interrupted, students deserve better than this. Before the pandemic, SUSI grants were already not enough to cover basic costs of living. The delayed payment is adding further financial worries to families at this already stressful time.
“Students and their families are under enough financial pressure this year without being forced to pay huge fees commuting. Many of these students haven’t had the same opportunity to save due to the financial effects of the pandemic and many of the usual part time jobs that students take during the summer are only now coming back on stream. The Minister needs to take a common sense approach here and give students a dig out. We should look to extend the short hop zone for students commuting to ease the burden.”