School transport for children with special needs


The Department of Education provides school transport services for children with special educational needs.

Bus Éireann (the State public transport operator) operates the school transport service on behalf of the Department. The school transport service may not be available in all areas. Where the transport cannot be provided, you may be eligible for a Special Transport Grant to help with the cost of making private transport arrangements.

If your school transport service has not started

If you have a school transport ticket and your service has not started, you may get an Exceptional No Service Interim Grant. The grant is to help with the cost of transport to school while you are waiting for your school transport to start.

The grant is based on the number of days your child attends school from the date the service was due to start up to the date the service actually starts. It will be paid after your school transport service starts and at the same rate as the Special Transport Grant – see ‘Rates’ below.

The Department will contact you directly about the grant.

Who can use special needs school transport?

The School Transport Scheme (pdf) applies to children with a special educational needs recognised by the Department of Education. The child must be attending the nearest recognised mainstream school or special class/special school or a unit resourced to meet their special educational needs.

If your application has been refused, you are entitled to appeal the decision. You can appeal to the School Transport Appeals Board online on the School Transport Appeals website. Appeals can be made:

  • If the Department is not in a position to provide a transport service due to excessive cost
  • Where the maximum level of grant offered does not cover the assessed cost of the journey involved.

Escort provision

The Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) can make an application to the Department to employ an escort to accompany a child, if the child’s care and safety needs require that support.

Special class arrangements

Transport services for children with special needs are only provided for the period of enrolment in a special class. If the child returns to mainstream classes, special transport arrangements will not be provided.

Eligible children who are enrolled in an autism class/unit attached to a mainstream school and who subsequently mainstream in that school will retain their transport eligibility for the duration of their primary education in this school. However, a new application must be made if they transfer to a new school.

Is there a charge for special needs school transport?

Eligible children do not pay a charge for school transport.

A Special Transport Grant towards the cost of private transport arrangements may be provided at the discretion of the Department in certain situations.

Special Transport Grant rates are as follows:

Kilometres (km) Rate per km
Up to 6437 39.12 cent
Over 6437 21.22 cent

How to apply for special needs school transport

You should apply to the school principal who will contact the school’s Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) about applying for special transport. If the SENO is satisfied that your child is enrolled in the nearest suitable school, and that school transport is required, a recommendation will be sent to the School Transport Section of the Department of Education.

Applications for Special Transport Grant (pdf) may also be forwarded to the School Transport Section through the SENO, before to your child’s enrolment in school. If grant aid is sanctioned, applications for payment of the grant should include a completed Statement of Attendance form. Applications may be made at the end of the school year by the parent or guardian of the child to the School Transport Section.

Where to apply

Department of Education

School Transport Section
Portlaoise Road

Tel: (057) 932 5466/7

School Transport Appeals Board

c/o Department of Education
Portlaoise Road
Co. Offaly
R35 Y2N5

Page edited: 20 September 2023