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School Transport

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 24 February 2021

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Ceisteanna (411)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

411. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education the way funds arising from the charges levied on concessionaire passengers using the Bus Éireann school transport scheme are accounted for; if the funds are accounted for in the general accounts of Bus Éireann; if not, if funds are accounted for separately under the school bus transport scheme; if her attention has been drawn to the actual cost of the scheme to Bus Éireann; the way the costs are broken down; the amount that is paid to private bus operators by Bus Éireann for the delivery of the service; the cost of the scheme for each of the past ten years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9526/21]

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 current school year over 113,100 children, including over 14,500 children with special educational needs, are transported on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country at a cost of over €224.7m in 2020.

The 1975 Summary of Accounting Arrangements form the basis of the payment to Bus Éireann for the operation of the School Transport Scheme. In this regard, the Department reimburses Bus Éireann for a range of costs incurred in the operation and administration of the scheme.

The School Transport Scheme is a demand-led service based on the number of eligible children who apply to avail of transport. My Department works with Bus Éireann to analyse costs to the scheme on an on-going basis while each year the company produces an audited statement of account. This ensures that the financial information provided by Bus Éireann is in accordance with the relevant summary of accounting arrangements.

Bus Éireann provides the Department with an annual projected cost of school transport services together with a provisional spread of payments. These figures are incorporated into the Department’s annual profile of expenditure and are monitored on a monthly basis both in terms of the Department’s monthly profile of expenditure and Bus Éireann information based on actual costs versus projected costs. Expenditure headings and profiles are discussed at monthly meetings held between the Department and Bus Éireann. Where changes in projected expenditure occur a new year-end forecast is submitted by Bus Éireann and reflected in a revised spread of payments.

Actual expenditure is finalised in the Bus Éireann annual statement of account which is independently audited by the Bus Éireann auditors in accordance with the 1975 Summary of Accounting Arrangements. Balances, where they occur, are accounted for in the following year’s projected cost.

Details of the cost of the scheme from 2011 to 2019 are outlined in the attached document.

Cost of School Transport

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