Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (378)

Denis Naughten


378. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to allow the medical card waiver to apply for school transport for pupils who may not be attending their nearest school for a variety of reasons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35701/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.  In the 2018/2019 school year over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €200m in 2018. 

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 completed the application process on time have been accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation for the 2019/20 school year. 

Children who are eligible for school transport and who hold valid medical cards (GMS Scheme) are exempt from paying the annual charge.

In addition, there is no charge for children who are eligible for school transport under the terms of the Department's School Transport Scheme for children with Special Educational Needs.

Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport on a concessionary basis only which is subject to a number of terms and conditions including the availability of spare seats and payment of the annual charge.

The terms of the School Transport Scheme are applied equitably on a national basis.