Written answers

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Department of Education and Skills

School Transport

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal, Independent)
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571. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if her Department has issued instructions to Bus Éireann to reject late payments from parents of eligible applicants under the school transport scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22023/20]

Norma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education. In the 2019/20 school year over 120,000 children, including over 14,200 children with special educational needs, were 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.

The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.

The closing date for payment for the 2020/2021 school year was Tuesday 4th August 2020. All children who are eligible for school transport and who applied and paid by the deadline have been accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation.

The School Transport Scheme Family Portal was temporarily closed for applications and payments on the 20th August 2020. This temporary closure was necessary to complete the work required to issue tickets to families who at that time remained due to be allocated a ticket for school transport services for the 2020/2021 school year.

The School Transport Scheme Family Portal has now re-opened. However, parents/guardians making an application/payment at this time for the 2020/2021 school year are reminded that the closing date for payments for the 2021 school year was Tuesday 4th August 2020. While it is possible to submit a payment, payments made at this time are now late. Late applicants and/or families who pay late are not guaranteed a seat and will only be allocated a seat if capacity is available once seats are allocated to those families who applied and paid on time for transport services for the 2020/2021 school year.

In addition, payments for Post-Primary seats completed or made after 4th August 2020 will be only considered when 50% capacity, required by new Covid-19 public health guidelines, is achieved on each route. The timeframe for this will vary from route to route and may take a number of weeks to complete.

In the event of not securing a ticket where no capacity exists, or on cancellation, a full refund will be issued.

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal, Independent)
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572. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the number of tickets issued under the school transport scheme at 31 August in each of the years 2018 to 2020 by primary, post primary and the subcategories of eligible, eligible exemption from charges and concessionary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22024/20]

Norma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education. In the 2019/20 school year over 120,000 children, including over 14,200 children with special educational needs, were 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.

Below is a breakdown of school bus tickets issued under the school transport scheme as at 31st August 2018, 2019 and 2020 broken down into the requested categories.

Tickets issued as at 31st August 2018/19/20

2018 2019 2020
Primary Eligible 16667 16353 15155
Primary Eligible Medical Card 6422 5880 5103
Primary Concessionary 13250 14363 13168
Post Primary Eligible 28039 30556 29685
Post Primary Eligible Medical Card 21432 21228 20292
Post Primary Concessionary 13687 14544 13158

Figures for 2020 may be subject to change as Bus Éireann continues to allocate tickets where capacity may exist.

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