Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Education and Skills
407. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills her plans to address the needs of the pupils who have paid for school bus tickets but have yet to secure a seat on their local bus due to lack of capacity in view of the fact that schools remain open; her plans to put on extra buses to cater for these children such as persons (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44538/20]
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.
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 have advised that the families referred to by the Deputy either submitted their payment after the deadline of 4th August 2020 or did not make a payment.
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 continues to offer seats on services where capacity arises.