Deputy Jackie Cahill
Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill has called for a common sense approach to be adopted by the Department of Education and Bus Éireann when it comes to the School Transport Scheme.
Deputy Cahill was reacting to a number of cases across the county where children are forced to travel long distances to pick up points or walk down dangerous busy roads to get on the bus.
“The current situation is so strict that in some cases it is easier for parents to drive their kids to the school rather than drop them to the school bus pick up point,” he said.
The Fianna Fail TD said that there were situations where the bus passed metres away from the student’s home but they were being told that they had to go to another bus stop to get on the bus.
“It’s a completely ludicrous situation,” he said.
Deputy Cahilll said he had also been dealing with a number of cases whereby one student was deemed eligible for a place on the scheme while their neighbours, who may only live a couple of hundred metres away, were not.
He said that this situation had come about as a result of the Department’s insistence that the distance between the home and the school was determined by the “shortest traversable route”.
“Bus Éireann have clarified that it is the shortest traversable route by foot, and not by car. To my mind, this doesn’t make sense. There are routes that cars and, indeed, cars are not allowed to use, but children are being put out because they are walkable,” he said.
And he said that it was also the case that some of the measurements were across small country roads unsuitable for large school buses.
“If Department officials and representatives from Bus Éireann were forced to travel on some of these routes, they would not stand over the decision or the policy itself,” said Deputy Cahill.
“There needs to be an element of flexibility within this system and I am calling on Minister Halligan and Bus Éireann to reconsider the current route guidelines and allow for a more common sense approach to be adopted,” said Deputy Cahill.