School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.
There are currently over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually.
The 1975 Summary of Accounting Arrangements remain as the current arrangements in operation and they offer significant benefits. The arrangements allow the State to leverage available transport management and tendering expertise within an established semi-State company for the benefit of an exchequer funded scheme.
On an annual basis Bus Éireann provides the Department with the projected cost of school transport services together with a provisional spread of payments. These costs are broken down under the headings agreed in the 1975 arrangement which include payments to contractors, maintenance, Bus Éireann driver costs and the transport management charge.
In terms of maintenance, Bus Éireann vehicles are brought into the garage every six weeks for a full maintenance check. The maintenance charges for these vehicles are based on identified required works and are allocated on a per vehicle basis.
Bus Éireann report the maintenance costs to the Department on a monthly basis as part of the monthly operational meetings.