Children without school transport as companies struggle to run buses at half capacity

ireland
Children Without School Transport As Companies Struggle To Run Buses At Half Capacity Children Without School Transport As Companies Struggle To Run Buses At Half Capacity
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Digital Desk staff

Around 200 secondary school students living in Lucan in Dublin have been left without a school bus service due to reduced capacity, as their return to school fast approaches.

The private company that brings pupils to Confey College in Leixlip has said it is not financially viable for it to operate a service at 50 per cent capacity.

It follows the Government decision to half the number of secondary school students allowed on vehicles in new Covid-19 guidelines for school buses.

Financially, he can’t sustain a business with 50 per cent [capacity]. If that’s the case then he would have to put another four buses on our routes.

Elizabeth Wynne, chairperson of Confey College parent's council, says a grant is needed to keep services running: “Financially, he can’t sustain a business with 50 per cent.

“If that’s the case then he would have to put another four buses on our routes. If there was a grant there to help the company or help the parents get their children from Lucan to Leixlip, that company could stay in service.”

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Ms Wynne said parents had been left without options: “A lot of parents are going back to work, it’s their time to start easing back into the office situation... They’re not in a position to drive their children, and never were, so hence why they were using the school bus.”

Logistical challenges

It comes as Bus Éireann, which operates the School Transport Scheme on behalf of the Department of Education, has said just a fifth of secondary school buses will be at 50 per cent capacity in line with new guidelines at the start of the school year.

The company said it is currently reviewing all 2,100 of its post-primary routes in order to determine which solution can most quickly and appropriately deliver 50 per cent capacity on all buses.

We will work through logistical challenges to achieve the new guidelines as expeditiously as possible.

It said solutions would range from schedule changes to additional resources in terms of vehicles and drivers.

“We have worked intensively with all stakeholders – the Department of Education, contractors, drivers – so that the school bus will be there on reopening day for every student with a valid ticket, with significant additional public health measures,” said Miriam Flynn, chief schools officer at Bus Éireann.

“We will work through logistical challenges to achieve the new guidelines as expeditiously as possible.”

The company said its School Transport Scheme accommodated 68,000 post-primary students last year.

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