Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Education and Skills
270. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department has an input into whether drivers over 70 years of age can operate Bus Éireann school contracts on routes which are operated by contractors; his plans to extend the age limit to 75 years of age; if the issue has been raised with his Department to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11238/20]
School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.
In the current school year over 120,000 children, including over 14,200 children with special educational needs, are transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €219m in 2019.
Last autumn I announced a review of the School Transport Scheme with a view to ensuring funds are being spent in the most effective way to meet the objectives of the scheme. The terms of reference and scope of the review have been finalised and a cross-departmental steering group led by my Department established.
It is Bus Éireann company policy that normal retirement age for all Bus Éireann staff is currently 66 years. However Bus Éireann Part-time School Bus Drivers and drivers nominated by private operators who operate service as part of the School Transport scheme may continue to perform in the role provided they hold the requisite licence and satisfy an annual medical examination until they retire at age 70.
This policy and criteria is applied to all drivers who provide school transport services on behalf of Bus Éireann equally.
As the policy has already been reviewed to extend the retirement age from 66 to 70, there are no plans to have this age limit extended at present.