Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills, Thomas Byrne has said that the School Bus Scheme is facing significant challenges that are causing real stress and anxiety to parents and pupils alike.
Deputy Byrne was commenting as many pupils have begun returning to school in recent days.
“I have been inundated with calls, texts and emails from parents of children who should have a place on a school bus but have been left high and dry by inexcusable inflexibly and inefficiencies by Bus Éireann and some of their contractors.
“What I am very concerned about is the number of parents of children with special educational needs or disabilities who are struggling to overcome the bureaucratic hurdles needed to get a place on a school bus for their child. I have heard of reports of parents being given less than 18 hours’ notice that offers of places on buses are being withdrawn by private operators working on behalf of Bus Éireann.
“For the last number of years, Bus Éireann promised me and many other public representatives that it would invest in improving the customer service offered to parents. I would argue that the service has gotten worse rather than improved over the last 18 months.
“Parents are reporting that it is getting increasingly harder and harder for them to speak to anyone in Bus Éireann or their contractors to discuss their child’s or children’s applications.
“Additionally, inflexibility and intransience seems to be Bus Éireann’s modus operandi. Parents have come to me exasperated as their children have lost their seat on the bus because payment may have been made late, sometimes by only a matter of minutes.
“Fianna Fáil is committed to acknowledging the importance of traditional school catchment areas in rural areas which have been overturned by the current Government at great cost to communities. Fianna Fáil will also give a school bus guarantee that ensures that any child who received a concessionary bus pass in first year of either primary or secondary school could keep that pass until they finish school,” concluded Byrne.