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Cork TD Seán Sherlock calls for school bus solution before Budget

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Many students have lost out on school bus places following the introduction on free school transport by Minister Norma Foley during the Summer.

Many students have lost out on school bus places following the introduction on free school transport by Minister Norma Foley during the Summer.

Many students have lost out on school bus places following the introduction on free school transport by Minister Norma Foley during the Summer.

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Cork TD Seán Sherlock has said that the Minister for Education must take action ahead of the Budget and fund extra bus places for North Cork routes especially in Kildorrery, Mitchelstown, Fermoy and Glenville.

The Cork East Labour Party TD was speaking in the Dáil following widespread concern over schoolchildren being unable to access school buses after Education Minister Norma Foley decided to make it freely available during the Summer.  That decision led to many school children who had previously been paying for tickets being denied places on school bauses as they were filled by students availing of the free tickets. 

The Mallow based TD said that Minister Foley had acknowledged that there were students and families who had previously been accommodated on school transport but were now ‘outside the loop’.

"These families are now faced with the option of children missing school or parents giving up work,” said Deputy Sherlock who added that the choice for families was now stark.

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"The idea previously where the Department just hoped this issue would fizzle out is not happening. Parents are awaiting appeal decisions and are now barred from travel while awaiting those appeals.

" It is Fianna Fáil policy now to kick students off buses, even when their ticket is under appeal. Fianna Fáil can direct Bus Eireann to allow those families to travel in the short term, especially where there are empty seats.

"Fianna Fáil has chosen not to."

In her response, Minister Foley said that only students with a valid ticket for school transport would be permitted to travel ‘for safety reasons’. 

" Already 124,000 tickets for the 2022/2023 school year have been issued to applicants for the new school year. To date, circa 20,400 additional places have been created for children for the 2022/2023 school year.

"Bus Éireann will continue to process applications and to issue tickets as soon as extra buses and drivers are sourced and become available to provide transport for the higher numbers qualifying for the service.

“However, regrettably the unprecedented numbers of new applications for the upcoming school year, has led to some delays in issuing tickets.”

The Minister spelled out that the criteria for eligibility for school transport remained the same as prior to free travel being introduced. 

"Pupils at primary level are eligible where they live no less than 3.2 kilometres from and are attending their nearest primary school.

"At post primary level, students who live no less than 4.8 kilometres from and are attending their nearest post primary school/education centre are deemed eligible.”


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