Fianna Fáil Education Spokesperson Thomas Byrne has received a guarantee from Junior Education Minister John Halligan that no child will lose their school bus place as a result of a review being undertaken by his Department.

Deputy Byrne commented, “Fianna Fáil has been expressing concern about this review of the School Transport Scheme, particularly the impact that it will have on school bus places.  What is particularly worrying is the fact that the Department of Education appeared to be encouraging Bus Eireann, which is the provider of the service, to reduce the number of seats on their buses or to use smaller buses on school runs.

“The Department had admitted attempting to reduce the number of “concessionary” seats available – these are students who do not qualify for the School Transport Scheme, because they do not live far enough away to qualify, but who have been allowed to use school transport if there were spare seats on the bus.

“It seems completely unfair that the Department is explicitly trying to exclude these children — who pay an annual fee to be accommodated on these buses. School transport use should be encouraged, but the Department’s proposal to introduce smaller bus sizes and extra bureaucratic restrictions seems counter intuitive.

“I raised this issue in the Dáil earlier this week and I welcome Deputy Halligan’s explicit guarantee that no child will lose their place on a school bus as a result of the Department review I will be ensuring that he keeps to this promise.’’