School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education. In the 2019/20 school year over 120,000 children, including over 14,200 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €219m in 2019.
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. All children who are eligible for school transport and who completed the application and payment process on time have been accommodated on school transport services for the 2020/2021 school year.
The annual charge for school transport services is €100 per annum for primary children and €350 for post primary children with a maximum family charge of €220 for primary children only or €650 overall. The service is heavily subsidised, with less than 8% of the cost of the scheme being recouped from fare-paying pupils in 2019.
In view of the exceptional circumstances this year my Department will liaise with Bus Éireann on a case by case basis in regard to requests for refunds on late payments, taking into account the timing of the allocation of tickets on services where capacity may exist following the implementation of measures to achieve social distancing on post-primary services.