(South Tipperary) asked the Minister for Education the scale of charges being made in some school buses; and the circumstances in which such charges are made.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - School Transport Charges.
Free transport is provided for pupils under ten years of age who reside two miles or over from the nearest primary school and for pupils over ten years of age who reside three miles or over from the nearest primary or post-primary schools. Pupils who are ineligible for free transport because they live less than these distances from school are allowed travel as fare paying passengers, provided there is accommodation for them on the school bus.
The fares payable are a matter for CIE. They are: 55/- per school term for primary pupils; 75/- per school term for post-primary pupils.
I may add that the level of these charges compares favourably with the concession fares for school children travelling on public scheduled services.
In view of the number of anomalies in the school transport system would the Minister not consider that it is now time to introduce a system to provide free transport for all children attending national, vocational and secondary schools who live beyond a reasonable distance from the schools?
In the past fortnight I have had a very full roundtable discussion on that matter with the officials of CIE who are concerned with the organisation of the school transport system. We are trying to iron out certain anomalies. We are costing the suggestion made by Deputy Harte and are preparing an overall costing also to iron out some of the anomalies in the present system. I should like to assure the Deputy that this is a very costly matter, to put it mildly. We are paying out substantial money in the current year, in the region of £2 million, for the present transport system. Any enlargement of that in the present climate would be unrealistic. We are costing it to see precisely where we are. Any enlargement such as suggested by the Deputy would be unrealistic in present circumstances, however desirable it might be.
To whom is the Minister paying this sum of almost £2 million?
To CIE, in order to get the job done.
Is that not a State body?
They must pay their way also. Is the Deputy not aware of the elementary facts of economics and administration?
We cannot have a full debate on school buses on this question.
I have asked a supplementary question.
Yes, but it does not arise.
It arises out of the Minister's reply.
It does not.
But the Minister said it is costing £2 million. I want to know to whom he is paying the £2 million.
The Minister has answered that. Question No. 42.