Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (585)

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

585. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of removing the nearest school clause for the primary and post-primary school transport scheme and to expand the scheme to all eligible children to a school in which a child is enrolled for 2019-2020 regardless of whether it is the nearest national school or not or if it is nearer than the current agreed distance of 3.2 kilometres. [33713/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.  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 purpose of the 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.  Children are generally eligible for school transport if they satisfy the distance criteria and are attending their nearest school as determined by the Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

All children who are eligible for school transport and who complete the application process on time will be accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation for the 2019/20 school year. 

The cost for the provision of school transport scheme services in 2018 was over €200m.  It is not possible to estimate what the cost would be to expand the scheme in the manner referred to by the Deputy.