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Department addresses school transport crisis



Over third of 130,000 applications/registrations received for mainstream school transport for the 2022/23 school year were new.

The Department of Education says that Bus Éireann is “continuing to work through remaining applications” and that families of students impacted by the loss of concessionary seat tickets will be contacted when further information is available.

Almost 130,000 applications/registrations were received for mainstream school transport for the 2022/23 school year after the government scrapped fees.

This figure includes 44,299 new applications as well as roll-overs from the previous school year.

Already over 119,300 tickets for the 2022/2023 school year have been issued to applicants, but there is no figure as yet of the number of students who previously had tickets but have now been left without.

Bus Éireann operates the school transport scheme on behalf of the Department of Education, and a department spokesperson said today (Wednesday): “Bus Éireann will continue to process applications and to issue tickets as soon as extra buses and drivers are sourced and become available to provide transportation for the higher numbers qualifying for the service. However, regrettably the unprecedented numbers of new applications for the upcoming school year, has led to some delays in issuing tickets.

“Bus Éireann is continuing to work through remaining applications and families will be contacted as further information is available.”

Bus Éireann says the problem has arisen where the Government’s suspended fees for the 2022/2023 but failed to sync that by amending other school transport scheme criteria.

Still the department says that “normal eligibility criteria” of the school transport scheme still applies.

This means that pupils at primary level eligible and living no less than 3.2 kilometers from and are attending their nearest primary school can reserve a bus placement.

At post-primary level students who live no less than 4.8 kilometers from and are attending their nearest post primary school/education center are deemed eligible.

“Any pupils/students who do not meet these criteria are deemed not eligible, or otherwise known as concessionary, applicants and are allocated a ticket based on the availability of a seat on when all eligible children have been catered for,” said the department.

The Bus Éireann online account management system, known as the Family Portal, reopened on Thursday, August 25.

Where applications have been processed, the reopening of the portal will enable account holders to check the status of their application. Families that have already submitted a valid application prior to July 29 and have not yet received an update, are advised not to amend or alter their existing application as creating new or duplicate applications risks losing the existing application place in the system.

“While the re-opening of the portal also facilitates a late application process, it is very important for such families to note that the application deadline for 2022/23 was 29 April 2022, and that the deadline to confirm registration for tickets was 29 July 2022. Any application completed after this date is a ‘late application’ and therefore, many school transport services are already operating at full capacity. Late applications will only be assessed after all ‘on time’ applications have been processed and there can be no guarantee of places for late applicants,” says the department.

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