Wicklow students failed by school transport scheme – Whitmore

Wicklow TD Jennifer Whitmore TD has expressed frustration with the Minister for Education regarding the failure to provide much-needed school transport for Wicklow families.

Correspondence from Bus Eireann confirmed last week that there are still three outstanding services that were due to run in 2023 yet to be made operational.

Speaking today Deputy Whitmore said: “Families in Wicklow who have paid for access to the school bus scheme for the 2023/2024 school year are still waiting for those services six months after they were due to commence. It is totally unacceptable for these students to have been abandoned by the school transport system like this.”

“The B9212 was meant to service Wicklow PPC and carry up to 53 students. This has not run once. Five students with additional needs who require taxis to get them to school have also not been facilitated.

“I had also been advised that the service to Marino Special School would resume, but I am now told that this has not yet progressed. The only alternative solution for parents is to use Bus Eireann’s public service obligation route from Ashford to Wicklow, which is inadequate.

“The process for applying for school bus tickets for the 2024/2025 school year is due to being in a matter of weeks, and we still have students with tickets for this year who are being ferried to school by their parents because the school bus for this year has not yet commenced.

“I have been asking the Minister for Education to outline what additional measures she will be putting in place to avoid a repeat of this issue next year and I cannot get a straight answer. The Minister seems to have taken a hands-off approach to this scheme and if that continues we will not see the improvements that parents and students need to see delivered.

“The reality is that year in, year out, the Department of Education have proven they are not fit to manage this service. Three years ago, the Minister for Education requested a review of the scheme, and since then, nothing has changed. There are still not enough buses for ticket holders, and families are left in the lurch. It is totally unacceptable.” Concludes Whitmore

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