Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley says that children are again being turned away from school transport this year ‘due to a failure by the government to recognise demand and invest in extra capacity’.
The Laois TD and his party are calling for 10,000 extra places to be funded and made available to help meet demand across the state.
Deputy Stanley said: “This week, parents across Laois / Offaly are getting notified that they have failed to secure a seat for their child on the local school bus. This is a problem in all parts of the constituency.
“Every year the School Transport Scheme is significantly over-subscribed here and instead of harnessing this demand, the government sit on their hands and let the situation repeat itself, year after year.
“This causes huge problems for parents in Laois and Offaly who are trying to juggle their work commitments.
“The announcement by the Government of the free scheme has predictably led to increased demand. This should have been anticipated.
“While the decision by Government to eliminate school transport fees for the 2022/2023 school year is welcome, it does nothing to address the capacity constraints. More needs to be done.
“Sinn Féin have called for 10,000 extra seats to be added to the system across the state, in addition to investing in new school buses and eliminating school transport fees.
“That would make a real difference to the lives of families here in Laois and Offaly and ensure these avoidable pressures don’t occur every year.
“By expanding this scheme, we can cut transport emissions, reduce dangerous traffic congestion outside schools, while providing families with a convenient method of transport for their children.
“Expanding the School Transport Scheme is a win-win for parents and for the environment.
“I am calling on the Ministers for Transport and Education to now step in and immediately increase capacity to ensure as many children as possible here in Laois and Offaly can be accommodated.”