School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of my Department. In the 2019/2020 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.
The closing date for payment for the 2020/2021 school year was Tuesday 4th August 2020. All children who are eligible for school transport and who applied and paid by the deadline have been accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation.
In agreement with Bus Éireann, the School Transport Scheme Family Portal was temporarily closed for applications and payments on the 20th August 2020. This temporary closure was necessary to complete the work required to issue tickets to families who at that time remained due to be allocated a ticket for school transport services for the 2020/2021 school year. The School Transport Scheme Family Portal re-opened on the 7th of September.
Other than this agreed period of temporary closure Bus Éireann has confirmed that in recent months they have had no reason, of a technical nature, to take the online application & payment system offline for any period of time due to maintenance or other reasons. However they have advised that on occasion, an individual user may experience a connection problem with the site due to individual or device reasons. This is typically resolved over the phone with Bus Éireann's local offices.