Tuesday, 30 June 2015
Department of Education and Skills
School Transport Administration
533. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if she will re-examine the current criteria, as outlined under her Department's primary school transport scheme with regard to rural areas, in particular the parameters which state that there must be a minimum number of ten eligible children residing in a distinct locality and the definition of a distinct locality, which is described as a cluster of eligible children, both of which indicate accommodation of urban communities as opposed to rural; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26062/15]
Changes to school transport services were announced in the 2011 Budget and derived from recommendations made in the Value for Money Review of the scheme. These changes included the requirement that a minimum of 10 eligible children, residing in a distinct locality, would be required to retain or establish a school transport service from the commencement of the 2011/12 school year.
For school bus operating purposes a "distinct locality" is a cluster of eligible children who reside in the same general area, in the same general direction from the school attended, as determined by Bus Éireann taking cognisance of the local road network. I am satisfied that this definition is commonly understood and is implemented in a fair and transparent manner; any consideration to reduce the minimum number criterion of ten eligible children would impact on operating costs. A child who is eligible for school transport but for whom no transport service is available may, following an application for transport within prescribed time limits, receives a Remote Area Grant towards the cost of private transport arrangements.