Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Thomas Byrne TD says the Government is letting families down over its handling of the allocation of places under the School Transport Scheme.

Deputy Byrne says the incident highlights the need for the introduction of a School Transport Guarantee to ensure no child loses their place on board a school bus if they have been allocated a concessionary seat in either junior infants or first year of secondary school.

Deputy Byrne said, “I have been inundated with calls from concerned parents who have highlighted that their children have lost their seat on the local school bus. These families have been left in the lurch for weeks as they waited to hear if they had successfully retained a seat under the School Transport Scheme.

“Now they are being told, as schools return, that they no longer have access to the school bus. I am aware of a number of cases where parents only received an email from Bus Éieann the night before school returned to say that their children no longer have a seat on the school bus. This is completely unacceptable and is resulting in a great deal of stress for families as they struggle to arrange alternative transport at short notice.

“I am also aware of a number of cases where families are being split up as a result of the haphazard nature in which seats are allocated under this scheme. In one case a younger child was told he could not travel on the same bus as his older brother while eligible ticket holders are being turned away by bus drivers as they are still waiting for Bus Éireann to issue them with their school transport cards.

“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. Fianna Fáil is pushing for the introduction of such a guarantee as it will streamline the allocation of seats and will ultimately bring a greater degree of certainty to parents and children regarding their school transport arrangements,” concluded Deputy Byrne.