Calls for extra school bus places after surge in applications

Eoin Ryan

TD Darren O’Rourke has called for 10,000 extra places on school buses as thousands of children are still waiting to see if their school bus application was accepted.

There were a record 130,000 applications for school bus places this year, with almost a third from first-time applicants by the July 29th deadline. This figure includes 44,299 new applications as well as roll-overs from the previous school year.

The surge in new applications comes after the Government announced it was waiving fees for one year under measures to alleviate the cost-of-living crisis.

Bus Eireann says that more than 112,000 tickets for the 2022/2023 school year have been issued, having earlier apologised for delays.

Parents are getting notified they have failed to secure a seat for their child despite some having applications accepted in previous years. Many parents who have been paying for concessionary tickets for years have received emails informing them that they have not been successful in obtaining school transport this year.

“This causes huge problems for parents who are trying to juggle their work commitment,” Darren O’Rourke said.

“In addition, we are turning thousands of children away from this public transport option, which is totally at odds with our climate ambitions, as it results in thousands of extra private car journeys to and from school each day,” he continued.

Bus Éireann said it is still processing applications and would issue tickets when extra buses and drivers become available.

Bus Éireann said availability of seats varies from year to year in regards to kids who would normally get concessionary tickets in past years.

Bus Éireann determines the allocation of tickets using a computerised random process when the number of applications for school transport exceeds the number of seats available.

The State bus company declined to confirm claims by parents that they were told seats were allocated through a lottery system. It said it would not have a figure for how many pupils were not offered a seat until it finishes processing all the applications received.

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