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Wed, Nov
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School buses way over 50 percent capacity

News

STILL WAITING School buses parked up at Cashel on Achill Island recently.

Edwin McGreal

Despite government saying school buses should run at no more than 50 percent capacity, a number of services in Mayo are operating at close to full capacity.
On August 20 last, the Government announced that school buses should run at no more than 50 percent capacity, following advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team.
However, The Mayo News has learned of three routes in Mayo which are operating at close to full capacity.
In Achill, two services to Coláiste Pobail Acla are practically at full capacity.
The service from Dookinella which also takes in Dugort, The Valley and Dooniver has 47 pupils registered to travel on a 53 seater bus.
The service from Dooagh which also takes in Keel and Bunnacurry also has 47 pupils registered on a 53 seater bus.
Meanwhile The Mayo News understands that the school bus service which brings students from the Mulranny area to schools in Westport has 37 students registered for a 45 seater bus.
One parent expressed their concerns over the numbers currently travelling on one of these routes.
“We were told the buses would operate at 50 percent capacity or less and we’re in November now and there’s no sign of any change.
“The schools are doing their best, the children are doing their best. It’s time now for the Department of Education and the Department of Transport to step up to the mark,” the parent told The Mayo News.
In response to questions from The Mayo News, Bus Éireann issued the following statement.
“Bus Éireann operates the School Transport Scheme on behalf of the Department of Education and are engaging on the logistics involved with the rolling implementation of measures on post-primary school transport services as required to provide physical distancing aligned to the public health advice received shortly before schools reopened which advised that the post-primary scheme should run at 50 percent capacity.
“Bus Éireann has a clear planning and project management programme to achieve this and the implementation of 50 percent capacity has been put in place where possible over the last number of weeks. Bus Éireann has been working on assessing more than 2,500 routes, identifying necessary actions and undertaking a national procurement campaign.
This will require an estimated additional 1,600 drivers, appropriately licenced and Garda vetted, effectively a 30 percent increase on the existing network. Bus Éireann will be implementing 50 percent capacity on a rolling basis as soon as it is possible to do so on each individual route,” they stated.