Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport Robert Troy TD says lower income families are being punished by arbitrary rules imposed in the School Transport Scheme.

Deputy Troy was responding to the publication of Barnardos Children’s Charity annual ‘School Costs Survey’, which found that lower income families in particular are struggling with the costs of school transport.

“This survey demonstrates that there are many families who are struggling to meet school transport costs for their children. Lower income families are expected to pay up to €650 per annum for school transport, despite being in receipt of the Back to School Allowance,” said Deputy Troy.

“Currently a child who holds a medical card, and lives more than 3.2km from a primary school or 4.8km from a secondary school, is entitled to free school transport. This is completely reasonable, but in contrast lower income families who live closer to a school are expected to pay the full cost of school transport.

“Lower income families currently receive €100 for primary school children and €200 for second level pupils through the Back to School Allowance. However the Barnardos survey points out that this money is fully used up on school transport costs for those unlucky enough to live just inside the travel bracket for their school.

“This arbitrary rule contained in the School Transport Scheme needs to be re-examined as it is imposing an excessive burden on families. It’s putting these families at risk of poverty and is acting as a barrier to education. We should be doing everything we can to ensure all children have access to education.

“I believe that the School Transport Scheme should be reformed so that families holding a medical card are eligible for free school transport, regardless of the distance they live from school.”