Written answers

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Department of Education and Skills

School Transport

Photo of Kieran O'DonnellKieran O'Donnell (Limerick City, Fine Gael)
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118. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if she will address a matter regarding the case of a child (details supplied). [39116/20]

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 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 2020/2021 school year was Tuesday 4th August 2020.

Bus Éireann has confirmed, that the child to whom the Deputy refers, is eligible for School Transport. However, payment for School Transport for the 2020/2021 school year was received on 8th September 2020 and as such is a late payment and no ticket has issued for transport for the current school year.

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 or submission of medical card details for Post-Primary seats completed or made after 4th August 2020 will be only considered when 50% capacity, required by Covid19 public health guidelines, is achieved on each route.

Bus Éireann have confirmed that they have implemented social distancing on the route in question and that a seat has now become available for the child referred to by the Deputy as a result of additional capacity created. Bus Éireann has confirmed that they will be in contact with the family directly with regard to transport arrangements.

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