School transport deadline must provide bus seats for all
Speaking on the deadline day for School Transport Payments (today, Friday, June 9th) Labour Spokesperson on Rural and Community Development Seán Sherlock said it is critical that the Minister for Education confirm that those paying by the deadline will receive a school bus seat.
Deputy Sherlock said:
“Already parents and students are beginning to worry about whether they will have a seat for the new school year or not.
“The Minister must realise that school communities in every corner of the country want to see universal school transport. Last year’s free tickets only served to inflate numbers and push more students off buses and into cars.
“The school transport system has been broken for a number of years, patched up with sticking plasters by various Ministers. The annual scramble for tickets, based off a concessionary model that is outdated and inequitable, was made even more unedifying last year with the free fees proposal. Instead of building confidence and encouraging use, it kicked families off buses that they had used for years.
“By not expanding capacity on routes, the Minister and the Government created a log jam pitted classmate against classmate.
“The Minister constantly reiterates that it is a demand led system.That in itself shows that it is plannable year to year. If you want a seat, and you pay for a seat, you should get a seat.”
“Universal school transport, coupled with free bus transport for all school-going children, would have been a radical move that could have reduced traffic pinch points in towns like Mallow and Fermoy and Middleton and can also help in suburban villages in Cork Limerick and Waterford and other urban conurbations.
“Abolishing the distance criteria would be a first step towards universality that would reflect the realities of students and families.”