I propose to take Questions Nos. 185, 186 and 189 together.
School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of my Department.
There are currently over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually.
The service is delivered using a mix of Bus Éireann, both school transport and road passenger vehicles, and private contractor vehicles.
The health and safety of children and those on board school transport vehicles is the number one priority for the Department and Bus Éireann. In this context, Bus Éireann vehicles are brought into the garage every six weeks for full maintenance checks. The maintenance charges for these vehicles are based on identified required works.
In addition the Bus Éireann contract with private contractors includes a stipulation that requires planned maintenance programmes in place, with vehicle checking intervals of not more than six weeks. Contractors are obliged to ensure that their vehicles have an up to date roadworthiness certificate issued by an RSA accredited test centre when the contract is signed. They are further obliged to keep the roadworthiness certificates current and up to date at all times and provide Bus Éireann with evidence of this.