Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills Thomas Byrne has today questioned the Taoiseach in the Dáil over the Government’s plan to significantly reduce the number of concession places for school buses.
Deputy Byrne said, “The Minister’s Briefing document compiled for the incoming Minister for Education Richard Bruton revealed that it’s the current policy of the department to encourage the provider of the School Transport Scheme, Bus Éireann, to reduce the number of seats on buses used to transport students locally.
“The explicit reason given by the Department for pursuing this policy is to attempt to reduce the number of students taking school transport on a so-called ‘concessionary’ basis. These are students who do not live far enough away from their local school to be directly eligible to avail of the School Transport Scheme, but nevertheless may avail of school transport if there are spare seats on the bus.
“It seems truly remarkable that the Department is explicitly trying to exclude these children, who pay an annual fee to be accommodated on these buses, by making Bus Éireann use smaller buses.
“School transport use should be encouraged rather than discouraged by senseless bureaucratic restrictions such as the introduction of smaller bus sizes. I have sought clarification from Minister Burton as well as the Taoiseach as to whether they have sanctioned the department to pursue this daft and wasteful policy,” concluded Deputy Byrne.