School transport for post-primary students
The Department of Education provides subsidised school transport for post-primary pupils who live more than 4.8 kilometres away from the appropriate school.
Bus Éireann runs the school bus service and the Department of Education decides the annual fares. The Department and Bus Éireann determine what is the relevant school, having regard to ethos, language and the shortest traversable route from the child’s home.
The service is only provided where there are at least 10 eligible pupils in a distinct locality that can be economically serviced by a bus route. Even when a pupil meets the age and distance criteria for school transport, there is no legal entitlement to transport.
Details of the Post-Primary School Transport Scheme (pdf) are published on the Department’s website.
There are some special transport arrangements for pupils with disabilities.
School transport services for the 2023-2024 school year started on 28 August 2023.
School Transport Scheme 2023-2024
Applications for the School Transport Scheme 2023-2024 closed on 28 April 2023. Your medical card details or payment for tickets had to be submitted by 9 June 2023. If you paid for your ticket or submitted your medical card details after 9 June 2023, your application is considered late and you are not guaranteed a seat.
For the new school year starting in September 2023, the School Transport Scheme fee for a primary school child is €50 and for a post- primary school child is €75. The maximum fee for a family is €125.
If your school transport service has not started
If you have a school transport ticket and your service has not started, you may get an Exceptional No Service Interim Grant. The grant is to help with the cost of transport to school while you are waiting for your school transport to start.
The grant will be paid at €5 per day, per family. It is based on the number of days your child attends school from the date the service was due to start up to the date the service actually starts. It will be paid as a once-off payment after your school transport service starts.
The Department will contact you directly about the grant.
Pupils from Ukraine
Pupils from Ukraine should visit gov.ie/ukraine for details on how to apply for school transport. They should not apply on the Bus Eireann website. Applications will continue to be accepted as families are relocated or as new families arrive.
Who can use the School Transport Scheme?
To be eligible for school transport, a student must:
- Be enrolled in a recognised post-primary school
- Live 4.8 kilometres or more from the nearest school.
Bus Eireann provides a list of FAQs about the School Transport Scheme.
Changes from 2012
The school’s Catchment Boundary Area was used up to 2012-2013 to determine the eligibility of post-primary pupils for school transport. Under this system, pupils living more than 4.8 kilometres from the post-primary school catering for the catchment area where they live are fully eligible for school transport to their school. Pupils who became eligible for transport under this arrangement continue to be eligible so long as their circumstances remain the same, for example where they continue to reside at the same address and attend the same school.
Since September 2012, pupils who start post-primary school will not be assessed under the catchment area system. They must be living 4.8 km or more from the nearest post-primary education centre, having regard to ethos and language, in order to qualify for transport.
There are also changes for pupils with medical cards - see 'Rates' below.
Parents must arrange to bring their child to the nearest pick-up point on the bus route. Generally, bus routes are organised so that no pupil has more than 3.2 kilometres to travel to a pick-up point.
There is provision for parents to pay for the bus service to be extended to a closer point, where this is feasible from the point of view of time and where it would not result in a major disruption to other pupils using the service.
Pupils attending a recognised post-primary school that is not the post-primary school for their area can use the service if there is room on the bus, provided they live at least 4.8 kilometres from the school in question.
Pupils may be given transport to enable them to attend the nearest all-Irish post-primary school or a post-primary school for their particular ethos if they live at least 4.8 kilometres or more from that school.
Children who are not eligible for school transport may be allowed to use it on a concessionary basis and pay the full charge – there is no waiver for pupils with medical cards.
Detailed conditions are published in the Post-Primary School Transport Scheme (pdf).
Remote area grants
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 kilometres or more from the nearest pick-up point for school transport.
Children using school transport are expected to behave responsibly and to have regard for their own safety and the safety of others. There are guidelines (pdf) covering the standards expected and how any alleged misbehaviour will be handled.
Reduced fares on public transport
Payment of School Transport fees
The School Transport Scheme 2023-2024 fee for a primary school child is €50 and for a post- primary school child is €75. The maximum fee for a family is €125.
Your medical card details or payment for tickets had to be submitted by 9 June 2023.
If you paid for your ticket or submitted your medical card details after 9 June 2023, your application is considered late and you are not guaranteed a seat.
Pupils with medical cards
Pupils who are eligible for school transport (see above) and who hold a valid medical card are entitled to free school transport to the nearest school.
If a pupil with a medical card is not attending the nearest school:
In previous years, eligible pupils using school transport to a school outside their catchment area could have the charge waived if they held a valid medical card. This arrangement will continue for pupils who are already availing of the waiver.
From 2012-2013 on, a medical card holder who is starting to attend a post-primary school further away than the nearest education centre is not entitled to free transport to that school.
How to apply for the School Transport Scheme
If your child is enrolling in post-primary school for the first time, you can apply for school transport online on the Bus Éireann website. You can also contact Bus Eireann with questions about your application or ticket.
Applications for the 2023-2024 school year closed on Friday, 28 April 2023. Your medical card details or payment for tickets had to be submitted by 9 June 2023. If you paid for your ticket or submitted your medical card details after 9 June 2023, your application is considered late and you are not guaranteed a seat.
If you have queries about School Transport you can contact Bus Eireann or call LoCall 0818 919 910 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday).
Applications for the remote area grant
You should apply in writing directly to the School Transport section of the Department of Education at the address below.
If you wish to appeal a decision on your application for school transport, you should complete the appeal form online. You can send any additional documents to the School Transport Appeals Board c/o the Department of Education at the address below.