Thursday, 10 September 2020
Department of Education and Skills
121. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if she will urgently sanction extra capacity on a post-primary school transport route (details supplied) to reinstate school transport for five students who lost their seats on the service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23192/20]
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 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 children referred to by the Deputy are 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 have advised that the children referred to by the Deputy were unsuccessful in obtaining a concessionary seat, that all tickets have been allocated on the service in question and that the service is operating to capacity at present.