School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education. In the current school year over 121,400 children, including over 15,500 children with special educational needs, are transported on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country. The cost in 2021 was over €289m.
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 School Transport Schemes, children are eligible for transport at primary level where they reside not less than 3.2 kilometres from and are attending their nearest national school. At post primary level, they are eligible where they reside not less than 4.8 kilometres from and are attending their nearest post primary school/education centre. Distance is determined by the Department/Bus Éireann, and rules have regard to ethos and language.
An eligible child for whom no transport service is available may, following an application for transport within prescribed time limits, receive a Remote Area Grant towards the cost of private transport arrangements. This grant is also payable for eligible children who may have to travel 3.2 kilometres or more to or from a designated pick up/set down point.
Grants are based on the distance from home to school and the rates range from €1.30 per day to the maximum daily allowance payable of €5.10 per day, per family.
The number of families who received a remote area grant for the 2020/21 school year was 2,821, of that 2,139 were at primary level and 682 at post primary level.
The total remote area grants paid to families for the 2020/21 school year was approximately €800,000.
The purpose of the School Transport Scheme for Children with Special Educational Needs is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children with special educational needs. Under the terms of the scheme children are eligible for transport where they have special educational needs arising from a diagnosed disability and are attending the nearest recognised mainstream school, special class/special school or unit, that is or can be resourced, to meet their special educational needs.
A Special Transport Grant towards the cost of private transport arrangements may be provided in certain circumstances.
The rate of grant payable is calculated at 39.12 cent per kilometre from home to school for the first 6,437 kilometres and 21.22 cent per kilometre thereafter. Payment is based on the number of days that the families provided transport for their children.
Approximately €2.9m was issued to families in receipt of the Special Transport Grant in the 2020/2021 school year.
The total cost of all grants made to families for the 2021/2022 school year is not yet available as these payments are currently being processed.