Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Ceisteanna (512)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

512. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education if a student can swap a school transport bus route (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27273/20]

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.

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.

Under the terms of the Post Primary School Transport Scheme, children are eligible for school transport where they reside not less than 4.8kms from and are attending their nearest Post Primary School/Education Centre as determined by the Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

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 2020/21 school year where such services are in operation.

Children who apply for transport and who are not eligible under the terms of the scheme are considered for spare seats that may exist after eligible children have been facilitated; such seats are referred to as concessionary seats. 

Concessionary transport may vary from year to year and cannot be guaranteed for the duration of a child’s primary school education cycle.  Where the number of applications for transport on a concessionary basis exceeds the number of seats available, Bus Éireann determines the allocation of the tickets and refunds payments made on behalf of those concessionary applicants for whom no seats remain. 

Bus Éireann has confirmed that the pupil the Deputy refers to is not eligible for transport as they are not attending their closest school. The pupil has been assigned to their current service since they started on post primary school transport in 2019/20.

The alternative service to which the Deputy refers is currently running at capacity and there is no option for the pupil in question to be facilited on this service at this time.