Primary school transport scheme

What is the primary school transport scheme?

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.

Applications for school transport services 2024-2025 are now open. You can submit your application on the Bus Eireann website (see ‘How to apply for the School Transport Scheme’ below).

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.

Proposed changes to school transport scheme

A review of the school transport scheme has recommended changes to how the scheme works, so that more students can use buses by 2030.

It recommends:

  • Removing the ‘nearest school’ requirement if there are existing bus routes or if there is enough demand for a new route (at least 10 pupils)
  • Reducing the distance required for pupils to qualify for the school transport scheme

You can read a summary report (pdf) and the full final report (pdf) of the school transport review on gov.ie.

Who can use the School Transport Scheme?

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.

Bus Eireann provides a list of FAQs about the School Transport Scheme.

Schools

The Department of Education 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.

Pick-up points

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.

Establishing and retaining a school transport service

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.

Closed or merged schools

The following rules applied in the school year 2011-2012.

  • Children in a closed school area who are living within 3.2 km from a ‘school of amalgamation’ are no longer eligible for transport to that school, but they may apply for concessionary transport if there are seats available
  • Current pupils who are eligible for transport under the Central/Closed School Rule (CSR)*, and who live 3.2 km or more from their school of amalgamation will remain eligible for the rest of their primary schooling

*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.

From the 2012-2013 school year, eligibility based on the CSR ceased 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 publishes detailed information on the conditions governing the 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 km or more from the nearest pick-up point for school transport.

Payment of School Transport fees

The School Transport Scheme 2024-2025 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 you make a late payment or submit medical card details after the deadline date, you are not guaranteed a seat.

How to apply for the School Transport Scheme

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 apply for school transport online on the Bus Éireann website.

Applications for the 2023-2024 school year closed on Friday, 28 April 2023.

Applications for the 2024-2025 school year are open. The closing date for on-time applications is 26 April 2024.

If you have queries about School Transport you can contact Bus Eireann or call LoCall 0818 919 910 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday).

For enquiries about timetables, pick-up points, routes and applications for transport grants, you should contact your local Bus Éireann school transport office.

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.

Appeals

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 at the address below.

More information

Department of Education

School Transport Section
Portlaoise Road
Tullamore
Offaly
Ireland

Tel: (057) 932 5466/7
Locall: 0818 919 910
Fax: (057) 932 5477
Page edited: 1 March 2024