Wednesday, 14 September 2022
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
Aisling Dolan (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source
The school transport system is vital for tens of thousands of families across the country. This is especially so in rural areas and I am sure in the Minister's own constituency as well, where there is just no other choice. He will be very aware of that. In areas of east Galway and Roscommon around Ahascragh, Kilconnell, Ballyforan and Dysart, we do not have a myriad of transport options. There is no Luas or train line running through these towns. I have been at public meetings in Ballygar and Mountbellew and parents are in despair; it is a lifeline.
Making it free was a wonderful initiative. It has brought in 44,000 students and families who are benefiting and has reduced the cost of transport for families.My understanding is that with 122,000 tickets issued out of 130,000 applications, there is a shortfall of 8,000 travel tickets. Based on an average journey of ten km - two return journeys a day means a 40 km daily total - I estimate that if we issued those 8,000 tickets, we could take 320,000 km per day of family journeys off country roads. I ask the Minister to imagine the amount of emissions reduction and the savings on fuels this would mean for these families. I put it to her that we need action now for these families.