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School bus crisis looms again across Galway

Another year, another shortage of school bus seats looms across Galway. And as families prepare to go back-to-school, a number of parents in the county are panicking that their children have been refused school bus passes.

Anne-Marie Davey’s son secured a bus pass for the past four years but was refused a ticket for the upcoming school term.

This is despite meeting the distance criterion from Craughwell to Clarin College in Athenry, his nearest secondary school. The application was also lodged by the April deadline and met eligibility. She does not know if it was refused due to human error, or otherwise.

“I’m frustrated by this situation. I know I’m not the only one. This isn’t a new situation, every year there is a problem,” Ms Davey (pictured) said.

She said she followed the process properly and appealed the decision but heard nothing back.

There are extenuating circumstances in the family, which mean they cannot just fall back on private transport – Ms Davey has health issues, and her husband works in another county.

“I live with a cancer condition, and other associated health issues. I’m doing okay at the moment but what that means is I’m not always available to drive. I can’t rely on that, depending on treatment and medication, it’s not a reliable mode of transport,” she told the Tribune.

Ms Davey said she was in favour of the Transport Minister’s plans for a modal shift to public transport, but the services had to match the vision.

“Eamon Ryan is really pushing public transport but what are you supposed to do if you live in the country, you have limited choices. (Education Minister) Norma Foley, I don’t think she can comprehend the extent of this problem,” said Ms Davey.

Last September the Tribune highlighted a school bus fiasco where children were left on the side of the road on the first day back at school.

It was created by the Government’s removal of the €350 charge for secondary school transport to help parents with school costs. That measure led to a surge in demand, but sufficient bus capacity wasn’t added.

Though a charge has been restored this year, it was capped at €75 for post-primary, and it’s understood demand remains high.

Ms Davey has written to Galway East TDs who support the Government, Ciaran Cannon (FG) and Anne Rabbitte (FF), who both issued statements about school transport earlier this year.

“I specifically asked them to raise the issue with Norma Foley because I’m not an isolated incident. If there is demand there, why don’t they just put on extra buses? Put on another bus, it can’t be rocket science,” she added.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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