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 at a cost of over €200m in 2018.
In the 2018/19 school year there were circa 28,400 children who were not eligible for school transport but who obtained a ticket on a concessionary basis. This comprised of circa 14,100 primary and 14,300 post-primary children. Under the terms of the scheme, the number of spare seats varies from year to year, based on the capacity of the buses running on all of the various routes and the number of eligible children accommodated on each route. Hence there is no guarantee that a non-eligible child who received a place in a previous year will receive a seat the following year. It is included in the terms and conditions on the Bus Éireann online application that availability of seats may vary from year to year and that concessionary transport cannot be guaranteed for the duration of a child’s education.
The average cost of providing transport for a child to primary or post-primary school is estimated at €1,000 per annum.