Kilkenny children and parents forced to endure school transport ‘chaos’
By COLIN BARTLEY
THE Government has been urged to ensure the school transport system does not cause huge stress for families in Kilkenny waiting to hear if their child has a seat on the school bus.
Kilkenny TD Bobby Aylward has called on the Minister with responsibility for school buses to ensure greater certainty for children with school transport concessionary seats and to bring an end to the chaos of previous years.
Deputy Aylward said it was important for the Minister of State for Training and Skills, John Halligan, to solve the many problems associated with the scheme he said is causing “havoc” for young school children and their parents every year.
Concessionary seats are currently given to children not automatically eligible for school transport but who meet certain requirements. These seats can be rescinded depending on capacity, and sometimes result in one child being able to avail of the bus, while their sibling cannot.
Deputy Aylward said: “Fianna Fáil have been calling for a guarantee to be introduced to ensure no child loses their place on a school bus if they had been allocated a concessionary seat in either junior infants or first year of secondary school.
“It makes sense that once a school bus place is allocated at the start of the child’s time at school, even on a concessionary basis, it should be guaranteed for future years.
“No child or parent should have to go through the ridiculous annual ordeal of waiting to hear whether or not they have retained their place on the school bus. Often parents are not told whether their child can keep a school bus place until the first week back at school and predictably, chaos ensues.”
Deputy Aylward says the current chaos could be fixed easily with a small injection of resources, but said the Government does not appear to have the will to do what needs to be done.
“The Government can put an end to this administrative nightmare once and for all by introducing a guarantee ensuring that children cannot lose a school bus place once one has been allocated to them,” the Kilkenny TD added.
“The Department of Education cannot continue to ignore the very obvious problems within the current rules of the School Transport Scheme, particularly those which determine the circulation of concessionary tickets.
“These problems are very solvable and would not cost a fortune to rectify but there has been absolutely no appetite from Government in the last number of years in providing the necessary funding to deal with these problems.”