School transport for post-primary students

Introduction

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.

COVID-19 and school transport

Schools reopened at the start of the new school year - end August 2020.

The Reopening our schools: The roadmap for the full return to school provides information and guidance for schools. New rules are in place for children using school transport. The Department of Education provided additional guidance in a letter to parents who use the School Transport Scheme.

The new rules include:

  • Not to use school transport if you are displaying symptoms
  • Maintain physical distancing while waiting for transport
  • Always sit in pre-assigned seating and next to a sibling or child from your class group (this should be the same child at all times)
  • Keep to public health guidance on good respiratory hygiene at all times while waiting for and on-board the bus
  • Get off the bus one by one in an orderly way
  • All post-primary students must wear a face covering while waiting for and on-board the bus with the exception of children who for medical or special educational needs cannot wear a face covering. Your child will not be refused access to the bus if they forget their face covering. However, your child’s travel facilities may be reviewed if they repeatedly fail to wear a face covering

Bus drivers will wear face coverings and face visors when children are getting on and off the bus or when social distancing is not possible.

If there is a suspected case of COVID-19 on the bus, school transport staff will contact you immediately to arrange to have your child collected. Your child will be separated from other children on board the bus and your child will be assured that help is on the way.

School bus escorts for children with special education needs will wear face covering or face visors as appropriate for the special education needs of your child.

Following advice from NPHET, school buses need to operate at 50% passenger capacity for physical distancing. Services will be reorganised and additional services will be provided as required to allow for physical distancing, but this will take time. If you are eligible but do not wish to use the school transport scheme you can arrange your own transport and apply for a refund – see ‘Refund of school transport scheme 2020-2021’ below.

Transport fee for 2020-2021

Applications for the School Transport Scheme for 2020-2021 closed on Friday, 24 April, 2020.

For information about payment of the school transport fee - see 'Rates' below.

Refund of School Transport Scheme 2020-2021

If you paid a fee for school transport 2020-2021 and did not wish to use it, you could arrange your own transport and apply for a refund. Applications closed on Friday 4 September 2020.

If your child is eligible for post-primary school transport and you choose not to use it for 2020-2021 school year, the Department of Education will give a grant to support you with the cost of private transport arrangements.

Grants will be paid at the end of the school year. You must provide documentation confirming the number of days of school attended in the 2020-2021 school year. The grant is based on the distance you live from the school with a maximum daily allowance of €5.10 a day.

Rules

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.

The Department of Education provide a list of FAQs about the School Transport Grant.

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.

Transport arrangements

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.

Concessionary transport

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.

Standards

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

Dublin Bus, the LUAS and the DART offer concessionary fares during school terms.

Rates

There is a single annual charge of €350 per pupil. The maximum amount for a family is €650 per year.

If you are eligible for the school transport scheme and choose not to use it for 2020-21 the Department of Education will give a grant to support you with the cost of private transport arrangements. The grant is based on the distance you live from the school with a maximum daily allowance of €5.10 a day - see ‘Refund of School Transport Scheme 2020-2021’ above.

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 will not be entitled to free transport to that school.

Payment of charge

You have 2 payment options, you can:

  • Pay the charge in full on or before 4 August 2020 or
  • Pay half the charge on or before 4 August 2020 and then make regular payments to clear the balance on or before 27 November 2020

How to apply

If your child is enrolling in post-primary school for the first time, you can either apply for school transport online or download the form from Bus Éireann's website.

Applications for the school year 2020-2021 closed on Friday, 24 April 2020.

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.

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 and send the completed form to the School Transport Appeals Board c/o the Department of Education at the address below.

Where to apply

Department of Education

School Transport Section
Portlaoise Road
Tullamore
Offaly
Ireland

Tel: (057) 932 5466/7
Fax: (057) 932 5477
Page edited: 11 November 2020