The school transport scheme provides transport for children who live 3.2 km or more from their local primary school. The scheme is funded by the Department of Education and Skills. In March 2011 the Department published the report of a Value for Money review (pdf) of the scheme.
In order to qualify for school transport, a child must be aged between 4 and 12 years and living 3.2 km or more from the nearest suitable national school.
Children with special needs are also eligible for free transport to and from special schools and to special classes.
If there are spare seats available, children who are not eligible can be carried on school transport.
The Department of Education and Skills decides what the nearest suitable school is. If a child is attending a school that has more than one teacher and there is a one-teacher school nearer the home, that fact will not usually disqualify the child from using the school transport scheme.
Children attending multi-denominational schools or Gaelscoileanna (Irish-speaking schools) are eligible if they meet the distance requirements to their school. They are not disqualified because there is another national school nearer to them. There are also special arrangements for Protestant children attending Protestant schools and children living in remote areas.
The scheme is not a door-to-door service. Parents/guardians are responsible for bringing their children to the nearest pick-up point to avail of the service. Generally routes are planned so pupils don't have to travel more than 2.4 km to their nearest pick-up point.
If there is no school transport service available, you may be able to get a grant towards the costs of private transport for a child who cannot get to school without transport due to an illness or disability.
There must be enough children to use the service. This means that there must be a daily average (over a school term) of at least 10 eligible children in a distinct area attending their nearest suitable school.
School year 2011-2012:
For the school year 2011-2012 the following rules applied:
*In the school year 2010-2011 when 2 or more primary schools merged, the children for whom the closed school would have been the nearest could only have transport to the school that was the result of the merger. Under the CSR some children living less than 3.2 km from such a ‘school of amalgamation’ were eligible for school transport.
School year 2012-2013:
With effect from the 2012-2013 school year, eligibility based on the CSR ceases for all new pupils entering primary schools. This may mean that where there is now a school that is nearer than the school of amalgamation, siblings in some families may have school transport eligibility to different schools from the 2012-2013 school year onward.
The Department of Education and Skills publishes detailed information on the conditions governing the primary school transport scheme (pdf).
The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport publishes advice for parents and schools in relation to authorised bus operators and taxis (pdf).
Remote area grants are payable by the Department as a contribution towards private transport arrangements for eligible pupils for whom no transport service is available. These grants may also be paid for eligible pupils who live 3.2 km or more from the nearest pick-up point for school transport.
School year 2012-2013
Children eligible for school transport
There is a charge of €100 per year for each eligible child, with a maximum of €220 for each family which only uses the primary school transport scheme. For families who also have eligible children using the post-primary transport scheme, a maximum of €650 per family per year will be charged.
Eligible children who hold a medical card do not have to pay the charge.
Children not eligible for school transport
If there are spare seats available, a child who is not eligible can use school transport at a charge of €100 per year. The maximum annual amount for a family is €220.
Children who hold a medical card, but who are not eligible for school transport, will still have to pay this charge.
Payment of charge
In general, the charge is due to be paid in full by the end of July or else in 2 instalments by the end of July and early December.
The scheme is operated by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department. If your child is enrolling in national school for the first time, you can either apply for school transport online or download the form from Bus Éireann's website. For the school year 2012-2013, you should apply by Friday, 27 April 2012. You will need the roll number of your child’s school (pdf) in order to complete the application.
Bus Éireann will send the invoice for the fare directly to the parents/guardians. In general, the charge is due to be paid in full by the end of July or else in 2 instalments: by the end of July and the start of December. You can pay the fare online through Bus Éireann's website.
For children who are eligible for school transport and are using it already, Bus Éireann will contact their parents/guardians about transport for the next school year.
For enquiries about time-tables, pick-up points, routes and applications for transport grants you should contact your local Bus Éireann school transport office.
You should apply in writing directly to the School Transport section of the Department of Education and Skills at the address below.
If you wish to appeal a decision on your application for school transport, you should download the appeal form (pdf) and send the completed form to the School Transport Appeals Board c/o the Department of Education and Skills at the address below.
School Transport Section
Tel:(057) 932 5466/7
Fax:(057) 932 5477
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.