Written Answers. - School Transport.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

983 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans, if any, he has to change the school transport regulations which allow private contractors to transport 21 children on 14 seater mini-buses, as per the licence agreement with Bus Éireann; if a report has been carried out into the safety aspect of this transport; and if the regulations will be adjusted to a more reasonable level, particularly for secondary school children. [19323/00]

The carrying capacity of school buses is determined by the Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use of Vehicles) Regulations – S.I. 190 of 1963, as amended by S.I. 273 of 1967.

Under existing public service vehicle regulations the licensed carrying capacity of all vehicles engaged in school transport is based on a ratio of three pupils for every two adult seats.

Great care is taken to ensure that loadings do not exceed the maximum legal carrying capacity. It should also be noted that, given the loading sequence of any route, in most cases vehicles would have their full complement of passengers for only the last 15 minutes of the morning and the first 15 minutes of the evening journeys. Absenteeism and non-utilisation of tickets contribute to a further reduction in actual numbers carried.

There is no recorded case of an accident being attributed to the 3:2 arrangement or of that arrangement exacerbating the effects of an accident.