School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.
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 2017/18 school year over 117,000 children, including over 12,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 4,500 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually at a total cost of almost €190 million in 2017.
School transport arrangements under the Central/Closed School Rule originated from the last major amalgamation of schools in the late 1960's. Given the time lapse it is not feasible to provide copies of agreements, where they exist, reached between the Department and the School Authorities at the time of amalgamation.In any event, changes to my Department's Primary School Transport Scheme which were finalised for the beginning of the 2012 school year mean that children are now eligible for school transport where they reside not less than 3.2 kilometres from and are attending their nearest national school as determined by the Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language. The terms of the Primary School Transport Scheme are applied equitably on a national basis.