Regular engagement between the CTTC and the Department of Education presents an opportunity to resolve issues.
The forum will engage the parties on a number of issues pertaining to the school transport network, and will meet on a quarterly basis.
The CTTC is the single largest representative body for Ireland’s school transport providers, private operators and coach touring companies. The sector is responsible for operating 90% of school transport services in Ireland, supporting just over 120,000 students daily, in the provision of 40 million school journeys annually.
In what has been a year of significant disruption for students, school bus operators have continued to provide essential services, despite unprecedented losses in revenue and unforeseen additional costs as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic. While committed to prioritising continuity of service, CTTC members are still facing considerable challenges relating to the provision of these services. Delays around vetting are preventing the recruitment of drivers, with many waiting up to 10 weeks – even if they have already been vetted in another geographical area. This issue is exacerbated by the fact that the existing driver age restrictions prevent operators from using drivers over 70 years of age for school journeys – despite the fact that this restriction does not exist for drivers who operate coach tourism services. Finally, with the cost of fuel consistently rising, and the capacity levels that will be permitted on school buses from September remaining unclear, operators are facing enormous challenges.
Commenting on the development, John Halpenny, Chairman of the CTTC (pictured) said: “I very much welcome the establishment of this school transport engagement opportunity, and I would like to thank the Minister for Education, Norma Foley and her Department officials for engaging with our members in this regard. As the single representative body for the industry, we believe that it is imperative that school bus operators have frequent engagement with the Department of Education, to ensure that all parties can provide input on issues pertaining to the essential service that is school transportation”.
“Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, our members have prioritised continuity of service in the face of numerous financial and logistical challenges. School transport is an essential component of our national transport network, and CTTC members are committed to playing our part in supporting the journeys of over 120,000 students on a daily basis”.
“With that being said, school bus operators are constantly facing obstacles with regard to service provision, and we know that this regular engagement with the Department will ensure we continue to provide the high quality service that our operators are renowned for. To that end we look forward to working together to ensure continuity of service for all”.