Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Ceisteanna (628)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

628. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he has taken to review the workings of the school transport system in particular the system for the allocation of concessionary tickets; his plans to seek funding through budget 2020 in order to restore general scheme parameters with a particular focus on rules determining eligibility to the pre-2011 system; if the possibility of amending the current eligibility criteria (details supplied) will be investigated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34473/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.  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 at a cost of over €200 million in 2018. 

The purpose of the 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.  Children are generally eligible for school transport if they satisfy the distance criteria and are attending their nearest school as determined by the Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

All children who are eligible for school transport and who complete the application process on time will be accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation for the 2019/20 school year. 

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.  Concessionary transport is subject to a number of conditions including that routes will not be extended or altered, additional vehicles will not be introduced, nor will larger vehicles or extra trips using existing vehicles be provided to cater for children who are not eligible; no additional State cost will be incurred. 

Where the number of ineligible children exceeds the number of spare seats available Bus Éireann will allocate tickets for the spare seats using an agreed selection process.

There are no proposals to revert to the criteria for the scheme which were in place pre-2011.

The terms of the School Transport Schemes are applied equitably on a national basis.