Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Questions (484)

Cathal Crowe


484. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Education if, in view of the vast difference in cost, grants will be made available to parents of pupils who are not attending a school in which they can access the school transport scheme and must avail of regular public transport. [10230/21]

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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. In the current school year over 113,100 children, including over 14,500 children with special educational needs, are transported on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country at a cost of over €224.7m in 2020.

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.

Under the terms of my Department's School Transport Schemes children are eligible for school transport where they reside not less than 3.2 kms from and are attending their nearest national or reside not less than 4.8 kms from and are attending their nearest post primary school/education centre as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

All children who are eligible for school transport and who completed the application and payment process on time have been accommodated on school transport services for the 2020/21 school year where such services are in operation.

An eligible child for whom no transport service is available may, following an application for transport within prescribed time limits, receive a Remote Area Grant towards the cost of private transport arrangements. This grant is also payable for eligible children who may have to travel 3.2 kms or more to or from a designated pick up/set down point.

The grant amount is distance related and is payable annually at a fixed daily rate, to each eligible family, regardless of the number of children from the same family, travelling to a particular school.

Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport on a concessionary basis only and will be facilitated where spare seats are available after eligible children have been accommodated. Where the number of ineligible children exceeds the number of spare seats available Bus Éireann allocates tickets for the spare seats using an agreed selection process.

Question No. 485 answered with Question No. 390.