School transport laws are being examined, Seanad told

Minister of State John Halligan says no child should be taken off a bus

Minister of State for Education John Halligan told the Seanad: “It is my belief that all children who need to be transported to school should be transported.”  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Minister of State for Education John Halligan told the Seanad: “It is my belief that all children who need to be transported to school should be transported.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Regulations covering the availability of concessionary seats on schools’ buses are being examined, Minister of State for Education John Halligan told the Seanad.

“I do not like the idea of having to take any child off a bus,” he said. “It is my belief that all children who need to be transported to school should be transported.”

Mr Halligan said while it was the prerogative of parents to send their children to the school of their choice, eligibility for transport was to the nearest school or education centre.

Children not eligible could apply for transport on a concessionary basis only, he added.

The Programme for Government committed to a review of the concessionary charges and rules covering the transport scheme, and a series of meetings had been held with representatives of all parties.

Mr Halligan was replying to Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly, who asked if the children of a family with a medical card were entitled to a concessionary ticket on a school bus of choice if space was available.

Mr Halligan said the difficulty with concessionary tickets related to the dramatic increase in the numbers in recent years.

At one stage, there were approximately 5,000 such tickets, whereas there were now about 22,000.

“Simply put, if there is a 20-seater bus catering for 15 eligible children and five concessionary passengers, and another child from the area becomes eligible for school transport, there is no choice but to remove one of the concessionary passengers from the bus.”