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Education | Meeting the school transport requirements of primary and second level pupils among ongoing review

To ask the Minister for Education the extent to which it is expected to be in a position to meet the school transport requirements of primary and second level pupils and students throughout North Kildare; if it is expected that the ongoing review of school transport is likely to resolve the situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter.


The School Transport Scheme is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education.  In the current school year over 147,900 children, including over 18,000 children with special educational needs, are transported on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country.

In addition, school transport scheme services are being provided in the current school year for over 3,800 children who have arrived to Ireland from Ukraine.

The total cost of the scheme in 2022 was €332.2m.

Children who are eligible for school transport and who have completed the application process on time are now all accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation. 

A review of the School Transport Scheme commenced in February 2021.  The review is being conducted with a view to examining the current scheme, its broader effectiveness and sustainability, and to ensure that it serves students and their families adequately.

Phase 1 of the review, an examination of issues a report on eligibility with an examination of issues for mainstream pupils relating to the nearest and next nearest school was completed in June 2021. 

Following commencement of the review the Steering Group presented me with an initial interim report in June 2021, with regard to eligibility and with an examination of issues for mainstream pupils relating to the nearest and next nearest school. Following consideration of this report, for the 2021/2022 school year, the extension of temporary alleviation measures were approved for transport for post-primary students who are otherwise eligible for school transport but are attending their second nearest school and have applied and paid on time.  These measures will be continued for the current school year, pending completion of the review and means transport will be provided for post-primary pupils who are eligible for transport to their nearest school and are attending their second nearest school and who applied by the 29th April and registered for a ticket by the 29th July.

While work on the review was impacted somewhat by the current conflict in Ukraine, and by the increased demand for the scheme in summer 2022 due to fees being waived, my officials are working to  complete phase 3 of the review within the coming weeks with recommendations on the future operation of the Department’s School Transport Scheme.

Planning for the operation of the school transport scheme for the 2023/24 is expected to be completed shortly.  Bus Éireann will advertise the details of the 2023/2024 school year process through their website and social media platforms. Details will also be published on the Department’s website and, in line with normal practice, will also be communicated to Oireachtas Members.

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