Aontú Leader and Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín has warned that there will wholescale chaos at School Bus stops on Monday morning. He stated that Aontú offices are inundated with queries from parents who are without any transport for their children.
He told Meath Live,“Its deeply frustrating that we are now entering the 7th year of September school bus chaos. Each year without fail there is another cohort of parents and children who are struggling to get the simplest of services, a bus lift to and back from school. I have never seen it as bad. Many children are still without bus tickets at this late stage. Many others have tickets on buses that are stopping at bus stops that are up to 10km away from their homes.”
“Bus Éireann are operating guidelines that were designed in the 1960s. The government are still refusing to design bus routes for the massive amount of concessionary ticket students. Bus roots are not aligned to school catchment areas,. Meaning that parents chose a local school for many reasons as is their constitutional right but Bus Éireann may or may not offer them a concessionary ticket. If they are lucky enough to get a Concessionary ticket Bus Eireann refuse to design the best route for them even if they make up the majority of students on the bus. Bus Eireann provide exceptions for Irish language schools and students of minority religions. This is discriminatory. All students should be treated equally.”
“The outcome of this will be tens of thousands of parents will have to drive their children to and from school, meaning that they may have to give up work. Where is the logic of this. The government is supposed to be getting cars off the road. They hiked excise up last June. They will increase excise next week. They will put carbon taxes up in October. The government is hammering parents with extra taxes on fuel but wont provide buses to students crying out for them.”
“I have been speaking to bus companies. They are keen to get more buses on the road. But there is so many bureaucratic obstacles. Vetting of drivers is taking for ages. Shockingly drivers that are vetted for one part of the country, can’t work for the same company for another part of the country. There is a significant wait time for even to get the forms to get vetted. This incredible bureaucracy leading to months for vetting to be approved. Bus companies have buses lying idle and at a time of great need. Bus companies do not get VAT back on bus transport meaning its harder and harder to stay in business. The government is making it very hard for buses companies to function. There is no Common Sense.”
“All this has happened when there is a €225 million underspend by the Minster for Transport. Its infuriating to learn that there is 225 million euro in funding just sitting there in the Dept of Transport which has not been spent while students and parents throughout several rural areas of Meath are in desperate need of transport to schools which reopen next week.”
“I urge the Minister to take this crisis seriously. Parents are in constant daily contact with me anxiously awaiting news on school transport for their children as this is a matter of having to choose between getting their children to school or give up their jobs as they have no other option. That’s the reality of living in rural villages in Ireland today. Many of these are two parent working families who have to leave for work with early morning starts commuting outside the county while trying to raise their families and educate them locally. This is a point which I have raised with the Minster for Education over the past couple of weeks. The Minster’s own office has informed me her office is inundated with requests for school transport from all over the country of a similar nature. Surely that must be a wake up call for Minister Norma Foley. Parents need to know now – not next week, not next month as their fate hangs in the balance.
“For two years in a row we have had to stage protests in my own county to get buses assigned to students. Do we really have to see students walk 17 km from villages to secondary schools again this year just to get a bus place?”