Almost 130,000 applications for bus tickets were made by the time the ticket registration for school transport closed at the end of July.
That’s according to an update on school transport from the Department of Education officials issued to TDs following the Budget.
This figure includes 44,299 new applications as well as roll-overs from the previous school year.
More than 6,000 children who applied for school bus places did not get a space as demand soared after the fees were waived this year in response to the cost-of-living crisis.
According to the Department, more than 125,000 bus tickets have been issued to students so far this year, compared to approximately 103,600 at the end of the last school year.
This means more than 21,400 additional places were needed, a 21% overall increase.
“There has been an increase of 18% to date in the number of tickets issued to eligible pupils and an increase of 27% to date on the number of tickets issued to concessionary pupils, compared to the start of the 2021/2022 school year.”
Some additional funding has been secured as part of the Budget, the note added, which will “allow officials in consultation with Bus Éireann to consider and evaluate where temporary additional capacity may be available.”
“The initial focus will be where families applied on time and who previously held concessionary tickets, to alleviate the impact of the increased demands on the scheme for those families.”
However, this is subject to capacity considerations.
“Constraints in sourcing vehicles and drivers in certain areas of the country may also mean that it may take a number of weeks to explore solutions for additional capacity.”
Labour TD for Cork East Sean Sherlock said that parents will have looked at the budget expecting “definitive action” on school transport.
"Instead, they got vagueness and confusion. The Minister still has not secured funds to address capacity.
"Fianna Fáil in government had that chance this week to solve the school transport chaos once and for all.”