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 1975 Summary of Accounting Arrangements form the basis of the payment to Bus Éireann for the operation of the School Transport Scheme. In this regard, the Department reimburses Bus Éireann for a range of costs incurred in the operation and administration of the scheme. Re-imbursement to Bus Éireann is on a cost recovery basis. The nature of the arrangements with Bus Éireann in respect of the School Transport Scheme involves the company recovering its direct costs and a payment in respect of its indirect costs based on a formula of 13% of certain direct costs. This charge for indirect costs and other direct costs is referred to as the Transport Management Charge.
In 2016 the Department approved €4.16m for the purchase by Bus Éireann of buses for the School Transport fleet. The cost was offset against an accumulated surplus on the Transport Management Charge.
Monthly operational meetings are held between my Department and Bus Éireann at which expenditure headings and profiles are discussed. As part of these monthly meetings a fleet register report, which is maintained by Bus Éireann, is provided to my Department.
Information relating to Bus Éireann statutory accounts are a matter for Bus Éireann and information in relation to these accounts is published annually and is available Bus Éireann's website.
The “Bus Éireann Annual Report and Financial Statements 2016”, as published, state that 20 new dedicated school buses entered service in 2016.