Primary school transport scheme

Introduction

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 the School Transport Scheme 2022-2023 closed on Friday, 29 April 2022. Request your ticket using the Bus Eireann Family Portal before Friday, 29 July 2022.

For the school year 2022-2023, there will be no fee for using the School Transport Scheme - see ‘Payment of fee and refunds’ below.

COVID-19 and school transport

From 28 February 2022, the Department of Education has advised that children should continue to wear face-coverings on school transport though it is no longer mandatory.

All other measures including the provision of hand sanitiser and additional cleansing services remain in place. Pre-assigned seating remains but will be reviewed.

The Department of Education school transport rules include:

  • Not to use school transport if you are displaying symptoms
  • Always sit in pre-assigned seating
  • Use hand sanitiser on boarding the bus
  • 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

Read our document about school during the COVID-19.

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 fee and refunds

On 5 July 2022, it was announced that there will be no fee for using the School Transport Scheme 2022-2023.

There was a single annual fee of €100 per pupil. The maximum fee for a family with more than one child was €150 per year. For families who also had children using the post-primary transport scheme, the maximum fee was €500 per family per year.

If you paid these fees or paid part the fee for 2022-2023, you will get a refund.

Request your ticket using the Bus Eireann Family Portal before Friday, 29 July 2022. If you have queries about school transport you can call (01) 522 9991, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

More information on getting the free School Transport Scheme will be available and communicated directly to families.

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 apply for school transport online on the Bus Éireann's website.

Applications for the School Transport Scheme 2022-2023 closed on Friday, 29 April 2022.

Request your ticket using the Bus Eireann Family Portal before Friday, 29 July 2022.

Late applications are not guaranteed a ticket.

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 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.

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: 18 July 2022