Education | School transportation in rural areas
To ask the Minister for Education if the school transport system takes account of school feeder patterns in rural areas when allocating places; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education. In the last 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 at a cost of over €289m in 2021.
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.
A number of changes to the School Transport Scheme were introduced in Budget 2011, which derived from recommendations in the Value for Money Review of the Scheme. These changes encompassed a number of elements including the cessation of catchment boundary area to determine eligibility at post primary level.
Pupils at primary level are eligible where they live no less than 3.2 kilometres from and are attending their nearest primary school having regard to ethos and language.
Students at post-primary level are eligible where they live no less than 4.8 kilometres 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 complete the application process on time and who confirmed to Bus Éireann that they require a ticket by the 29th July 2022 will be accommodated on school transport services for the 2022/23 school year where such services are in operation.
Any pupils/students who do not meet these criteria are deemed not eligible, or otherwise known as concessionary, applicants and are allocated a ticket based on the availability of a seat on when all eligible children have been catered for.
Further information in relation to the eligibility of the School Transport Scheme can be found on: gov.ie – School transport (www.gov.ie)
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