Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Ceisteanna (151)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

151. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated full-year cost of universal free travel on the school transport scheme operated by Bus Éireann. [38671/19]

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. In the 2018/19 school year there were 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 €200m 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.

Children who are eligible for school transport and who hold valid Medical Cards (GMS Scheme) are exempt from paying the annual charge.

In 2018, receipts from school transport charges amounted to some €15.9m or about 8% of the total cost of the scheme provided by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department. If universal free travel was to be provided this would be the additional cost on the scheme.