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 and Skills.
Who is eligible?
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 provide a list of FAQs about the School Transport Grant.
The closing date for School Transport Applications for 2020-2021 is Friday, 24 April, 2020.
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.
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 and Skills 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.
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.
How to apply
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 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.
For enquiries about time-tables, 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 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.
Where to apply