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 service is delivered using a mix of Bus Éireann, both school transport and road passenger vehicles, and private contractor vehicles. In this regard over 90% of school transport services are provided by private operator vehicles under contract to Bus Éireann.
The Value for Money Review published in 2011 recommended that a single national organiser (separate from the Department of Education and Skills) with a regional dimension should operate the scheme. The Review further recommended that the single national organiser should continue to be Bus Éireann.
Bus Éireann is obliged to tender all works, goods and services in line with the European Directives on public procurement, which includes school transport services performed by contractors under the School Transport Scheme. In this regard, some 20% of services provided by contractors are put out to tender each year and five year contracts are generally awarded following this tender process.