“Given the difficulties and upheaval our school children and their families have experienced since early last year, one thing they could do without this summer is a further repeat of the seemingly endless battle and bureaucracy involved in securing school transport.
“Every year in Tipperary many parents are left struggling to get school bus spaces through the School Transport Scheme due to the rules of the scheme not reflecting the reality of rural schools’ catchment areas.
“In some cases, people are being told that due to distance limits they cannot get a ticket despite buses for the school they have chosen passing their house every school day.
“I gave one instance in which a family were denied a ticket for their son because the school he was going to is .3km further away than the school the Department considered the nearest.
“This was despite the fact that the bus went past his house everyday, and that his siblings all used it.
“In other cases, parents of children with additional needs have found that the school transport scheme gives no consideration to the fact that the most suitable school for their child may not be the closest, while the Special Transport Grant is nearly impossible to access.
“Concessionary access as described by the Minister is too limited as well.
“I asked for a complete review of how the distance limits are determined, and to address the situation in which families in rural areas of Co Tipperary are effectively having their choice of school limited by inaccurate estimates by somebody in the Department using Google Maps, who has no idea of the geography of rural Ireland and the needs of its citizens.
“The Minster told me that a working group is due to report back to her on the matter ‘later this year’.
“’Later this year’ is too late for parents who are already making arrangements.
“I told the Minister that she needs to take action immediately to rectify this outrageous situation that’s been allowed to persist for years, leading to summers of frustration for many parents.”