Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Questions (150, 151, 160, 221, 320, 365)

Matt Carthy

Question:

150. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to ensure that private bus operators that undertake school runs will be provided the same 50% payment as those operating under Bus Éireann contracts. [6023/20]

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Louise O'Reilly

Question:

151. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if taxi drivers subcontracted by Bus Éireann to drive a taxi on a school run are to be recompensated by 70% of their earnings and not the 50% they are currently receiving; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6370/20]

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Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

160. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department has engaged with school transport scheme operators to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on services; and the supports now in place for operators to sustain service provision when schools reopen. [5623/20]

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Matt Carthy

Question:

221. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to ensure that private bus operators that undertake school runs will be provided the same 50% payment as those operating under Bus Éireann contracts. [6039/20]

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Gerald Nash

Question:

320. Deputy Ged Nash asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has considered an approach made in writing to the Minister of State with special responsibility for training, skills, innovation, research and development by an organisation (details supplied) for financial support for transport operators privately hired to undertake school transport work; the position of his Department on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6557/20]

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Darren O'Rourke

Question:

365. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Education and Skills the supports in place for private contractors working on the school transport scheme; if it will be ensured it is equal to that of public providers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6771/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 150, 151, 160, 221, 320 and 365 together.

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.

The purpose of my Department's 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.

In the current school year over 120,000 children, including over 14,200 children with special educational needs, are 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 €219m in 2019.

Following the initial announcement that schools would be closed from the 13th to the 29th March to support efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19, and in light of the exceptional circumstances, it was agreed that school transport contractors operating on the School Transport Scheme would be paid at the normal rate for the period up to 29th March 2020. It was further decided that a payment of 50% would be afforded for the week commencing Monday 30th March until Friday 3rd April 2020. Thereafter, the normal arrangements applied for the period of scheduled school closures associated with the Easter Holidays (6th April – 17th April inclusive). It was subsequently agreed that contractors should be paid for a further 5 days at 50% to cover the period Monday 20th April to Friday 24th.

In light of the most recent announcement that schools will remain closed until the end of current school year it has been decided that contractors will continue to be paid at 50% while schools are closed in the current school year.

My Department is not in a position to provide funding for private bus contractors not contracted to operate on the Department’s School Transport Scheme.