Written answers

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Department of Education and Skills

School Transport

Photo of Niamh SmythNiamh Smyth (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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113. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a bus ticket for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23090/20]

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.

Under the terms of the Department's Primary School Transport Scheme children are eligible for school transport where they reside not less than 3.2 kilometres from and are attending their nearest school as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language. 

All children who are eligible for school transport and who have completed the application process on time have been accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation. 

Children who are not eligible for school transport, but who completed the application process on time, are considered for spare seats that may exist after eligible children have been facilitated; such seats are referred to as concessionary seats. 

Bus Éireann, who operate school transport on behalf of my Department, have advised that the child referred to by the Deputy is not eligible for school transport under the terms of my Department's Primary School Transport Scheme as he does not meet the requisite distance criteria.

Concessionary transport may vary from year to year and cannot be guaranteed for the duration of a child’s primary school education cycle.  Where the number of applications for transport on a concessionary basis exceeds the number of seats available, Bus Éireann determines the allocation of the tickets and refunds payments made on behalf of those concessionary applicants for whom no seats remain.

Bus Éireann has advised that the pupil referred to by the Deputy was not successful in obtaining a concessionary seat, and all tickets have been allocated on the service in question and that the service is operating to capacity at present. However Bus Éireann has advised that there is a seat available on an alternative route which is approximately 1.2 km from the pupil’s home. The parent is advised to contact Bus Éireann's local office if they wish to enquire about availing of transport on this alternative route.

Photo of Niamh SmythNiamh Smyth (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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114. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a bus ticket for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23093/20]

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.

Under the terms of the Department's Post-Primary School Transport Scheme children are eligible for school transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kilometres from and are attending their nearest school/education centre as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

All children who are eligible for school transport and who completed the application and payment process on time have been accommodated on school transport services for the 2020/21 school year where such services are in operation.

Children who are not eligible for school transport, but who completed the application process on time are considered for spare seats that may exist after eligible children have been facilitated; such seats are referred to as concessionary seats.

Bus Éireann, who operate school transport on behalf of my Department, has advised that the child referred to by the Deputy is not eligible for school transport under the terms of my Department's Post Primary School Transport Scheme.

Concessionary transport may vary from year to year and cannot be guaranteed for the duration of a child’s post primary school education cycle.  Where the number of applications for transport on a concessionary basis exceeds the number of seats available, Bus Éireann determines the allocation of the tickets and refunds payments made on behalf of those concessionary applicants for whom no seats remain.

Bus Éireann has advised that the pupil referred to by the Deputy was not successful in obtaining a concessionary seat and all tickets have been allocated on the service in question and that the service is operating to capacity at present.

Photo of Danny Healy-RaeDanny Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent)
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115. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the number of students who applied to Bus Éireann for a bus ticket to go to secondary school; the number granted and outstanding, respectively, in County Kerry as of 4 September 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23110/20]

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 completed the application and payment process on time have been accommodated on school transport services for the 2020/21 school year 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 can only be considered when 50% capacity, required by new Covid19 public health guidelines, is achieved on each route.

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

Bus Éireann has advised as follows regarding the number of students that applied to Bus Éireann for a bus ticket to go to post primary school; the number granted and the numbers outstanding in County Kerry;

3616 applications were made, and 2891 tickets have issued. Payment was not received for 659 pupils.  46 pupils are currently under assessment. Of those under assessment 22 pupils have part paid; 7 pupils applied late and 17 pupils paid late. 14 pupils were either eligible or concessionary where there were no services available, and 6 concessionary applicants were not successful in obtaining seats.

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