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.

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
  • 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 COVID-19.

Who can use the School Transport Scheme?

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.

Bus Eireann provides a list of FAQs about the School Transport Scheme.

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. If eligible, a fee will not apply for the school year 2022-2023.

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.

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 €350 per pupil. The maximum fee for a family with children was €500 per year.

If you paid these fees or paid part of 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.

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 is not entitled to free transport to that school. If eligible, a fee will not apply for the school year 2022-2023.

How to apply

If your child is enrolling in post-primary school for the first time, you can apply for school transport online on the Bus Éireann 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.

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 complete the appeal form online. You can send any additional documents 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