Fianna Fáil TD for Tipperary Jackie Cahill has called for a review of the School Transport Scheme to examine the difficulties faced by lower income families in accessing transport services.
Deputy Cahill made the comments following the publication of Barnardos Children's Charity annual ‘School Costs Survey’, which found that lower income families in particular are struggling with the costs of school transport.
“This survey demonstrates that there are many families who are struggling to meet school transport costs for their children. Currently a child who holds a medical card, and lives more than 3.2km from a primary school or 4.8km from a secondary school, is entitled to free school transport. This is completely reasonable, but in contrast lower income families who live closer to a school are expected to pay the full cost of school transport,” said Deputy Cahill.
“Lower income families currently receive €100 for primary school children and €200 for second level pupils through the Back to School Allowance. However the Barnardos survey points out that this money is fully used up on school transport costs for those unlucky enough to live just inside the travel bracket for their school.
“The eligibility criteria for the School Transport Scheme must be reviewed in order to remove this anomaly. We should be doing everything we can to ensure all children have access to education. One reasonable proposal is to reform the School Transport Scheme so that families holding a medical card are eligible for free school transport, regardless of the distance they live from school”, added Deputy Cahill.