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Catherine Murphy TD, co-leader of the Social Democrats, has called on the Minister for Education to deal with serious deficiencies in school transport services.

Deputy Murphy said:

“Following NPHET advice at the end of August, major shortcomings in the provision of school bus services have arisen as measures to ensure social distancing are phased in over the coming weeks.

“Problems are already emerging, particularly in cases where students have to travel outside their area if their local school is over-subscribed. Students availing of the subsidised School Transport Scheme, including medical card holders, must be attending the school closest to where they live in order to qualify.

“This is a problem throughout the country and not just in rural communities. For example, I am aware of 150 students who live in Lucan but attend school in Leixlip. The lack of a viable transport option results in traffic chaos every day as parents are forced to drive their children to and from school.

“Despite spending €375m on reopening our schools, Dublin Bus has no term timetable in place due to lack of funding from the National Transport Authority (NTA).

“This situation is going to get worse when buses have to operate at 50 percent capacity by the end of the month. The reality is that it will not make financial sense for many private companies to offer school services in the absence of some form of subvention from the State. We could end up with a situation where parents would have to pay for two seats on a private school bus to make it viable for the operator.

“Every September there are issues surrounding the lack of school bus services but the situation is further compounded this year by the Covid-19 crisis.

“There is a very real and immediate crisis in school transport provision and it is going to get a lot worse in the coming weeks unless Minister Foley urgently intervenes.”

September 8, 2020

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