Tuesday, 13 October 2020
Department of Education and Skills
242. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 519 of 29 September 2020, when a person (details supplied) will be facilitated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29859/20]
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 Post Primary School Transport Scheme, children are eligible for school transport where they reside not less than 4.8kms from and are attending their nearest Post Primary School/Education Centre as determined by the 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. The closing date for payment for the 2020/21 school year was Tuesday 4th August 2020.
Bus Éireann have advised that the pupil the Deputy refers to first applied and paid for school transport for the 2020/21 school year on the 8th September 2020 and as such their payment is 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.
Given the health advice which my Department received from NPHET, my Department and Bus Éireann are presently focused on achieving 50% capacity across post-primary school transport services. The timeframe for this will vary from route to route but all efforts are being made to do so as soon as possible. Following the completion of this, further tickets will be issued to applicants where there is spare capacity on services. In the event of not securing a ticket where no capacity exists, or on cancellation, a full refund will be issued.