Thursday, 12 May 2022
Department of Education and Skills
School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education. In the current school year over 121,400 children, including over 15,500 children with special educational needs, are transported on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country at a cost of over €289m in 2021.
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 my 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 education centre as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.
Children who are eligible for school transport and who complete the application process on time (apply on time and pay on time) are accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation.
In addition, all post-primary pupils who are otherwise eligible for school transport but are attending their second nearest school and who have applied and paid on time have been accommodated on school transport services in the current school year. This arrangement is in place for current school year pending completion of the full review of the School Transport Scheme.
Children who are not eligible but who apply for school transport 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 operates the school transport scheme on behalf of the Department, review all school transport services over the summer months. Arising from this review, routes may be altered, extended or withdrawn depending on the number and location of eligible children who will be availing of school transport for the following school year.
As the Deputy is aware, the Department commenced a review of the School Transport Scheme overall in February 2021. The review is being conducted with a view to examining the current scheme and how it currently operates, its broader effectiveness and sustainability and that it adequately supports the provision of services to students and their families.
Wider considerations relating to operation of the scheme are now taking place in the current phase of the review which is currently underway. The Steering Group will continue to report to me on an interim basis as the review progresses.