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Kildare Today

with Clem Ryan

System Overhaul Needed As School Transport Scheme Expansion Looms

Recent reports suggest Minister for Education Norma Foley is advancing an expansion of the scheme.

The planned expansion of the School Transport Scheme must be rolled out alongside a major overhaul of the system.

That's according to Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore.

Recent reports suggest Minister for Education Norma Foley is advancing an expansion of the scheme.

A long-awaited review is expected to propose eligibility for thousands of students living closer to their schools to receive bus services instead of needing to apply for concessionary tickets.

While acknowledging the positive impact this could have for many families, Deputy Whitmore cautioned against overlooking the students still awaiting the promised school bus service for the 2023/24 term, which was slated to begin last August.

There are concerns that numerous families might encounter a recurrence of the school transport challenges experienced last year when the new term commences this autumn.

She said persistent issues such as driver shortages, last-minute cancellations, and unfulfilled promised bus routes continue to plague Kildare and Wicklow.

As applications for the School Transport Scheme are due to open at the end of the month, the Minister has yet to clarify any additional measures implemented to prevent a reoccurrence of these problems.

Deputy Whitmore has advocated for establishing a new national school bus service under the Department of Transport's jurisdiction, detached from the Department of Education.

She also called for a significant recruitment effort to attract part-time drivers.

The ongoing issues have caused immense disruption and stress for parents, some resorting to taking time off work or even resigning from their jobs to transport their children to school.

 

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