Carol Nolan TD

Action must be taken on bus driver retirement age before new school term begin

28-06-2024

Taoiseach Simon Harris has said he ‘instinctively agrees’ with a proposal by Independent TD Carol Nolan regarding a review of the mandatory retirement age (70 years) for bus drivers employed by or contracted to Bus Eireann for the provision of the school transport service.

The Independent TD who has repeatedly highlighted the need a relaxation of the policy previously received assurances from the Minister for Education Norma Foley in April that such a review was being undertaken by her own Department and the Department of Transport regarding the current Bus Eireann policy.

In his response to Deputy Nolan the Taoiseach also stated his own view that the retirement age “causes issues in many constituencies and counties, including my own, where there is someone who is willing and able to drive the bus but is told that, because of an arbitrary age on his or her birth certificate, he or she cannot drive the bus.”

He went on to describe the current situation as “offensive to those individuals” and “problematic for our constituents who are trying to get their children to school.”:

“I am glad to hear the Taoiseach agree with my own assessment of the mandatory retirement age issue which I have consistently called out as nothing short of discriminatory and counter-productive,” said Deputy Nolan.

“I do understand that the matter essentially involves Bus Eireann deferring to the views of the Road Safety Authority but as yet there is no clarity from the RSA on what precisely its objections are, particularly where a driver is medically and professionally fit to continue to working and indeed wants to work.”

 “We need this issue firmly and fully resolved not least because as the data in the recent School Transport Scheme 2030 report makes clear, an additional 100,000 pupils are expected to be taken into the scheme by 2030.”

“There is simply no point in waiting for the summer for to pass before action is taken and the policy changed. We need all departments and the RSA to work collaboratively on this issue before August when the annual scramble for seats on school transport takes place,” concluded Deputy Nolan.