School transport for post-primary students
The Department of Education and Skills 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 and Skills 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), which was revised in January 2012, are published on the Department’s website.
There are some special transport arrangements for pupils with disabilities.
COVID-19 and school transport
All schools closed on 12 March 2020 due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The Government Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business (pdf) includes the phased opening of schools and colleges in the new academic year 2020-2021.
Parents will get a refund of school transport fees paid for the period that schools are closed.
Refund payments will be made at the end of the school year 2019-2020, when the exact period of the closures can be confirmed.
Applications for the School Transport Scheme for 2020-2021 closed on Friday, 24 April, 2020.
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 and Skills 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.
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
There is a single annual charge of €350 per pupil. The maximum amount for a family is €650 per year.
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.
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.
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.
For the school year 2020-2021, you should apply by Friday, 24 April 2020.
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.
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 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 and send the completed form to the School Transport Appeals Board c/o the Department of Education and Skills at the address below.
Where to apply