Brendan Smith welcomes preliminary report of Steering Group on Review of School Transport Scheme but calls for further improvements

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith has welcomed the news that transport arrangements will be provided for a number of local post-primary students who are attending their second nearest school, who have applied and paid on time and who live more than 4.8km from their nearest school. 

However, the Cavan and Monaghan TD has called for further and ongoing improvements to the School Transport Scheme, including increasing school bus capacity due to the additional seating requirements arising from Covid-19 and increased accessibility for more students. 

Deputy Smith’s party colleague and Minister for Education Norma Foley TD announced today that the Steering Group has reported to her with its initial preliminary report on the Review of the School Transport Scheme. 

Responding to the announcement, Deputy Smith commented, “This is good news and will result in transport being provided for post-primary pupils in the 2021/2022 school year, who otherwise would not be accommodated under the scheme.” 

The Cavan and Monaghan TD added: “This arrangement will be in place for the coming school year pending completion of the full review of the School Transport Scheme, which will involve a thorough review of the School Transport Scheme and from which further recommendations for any changes of a permanent nature will ensue.” 

Following commencement of the review in February 2021 and a detailed analysis and report conducted by the Technical Working Group in the interim period, the Steering Group has presented its initial interim report,  a report on eligibility with an examination of issues for mainstream pupils relating to the nearest and next nearest school, for consideration by the Minister.  In its report, the Steering Group notes that the Technical Working Group recommends maintaining the scheme as it currently operates pending the outcome of the full review but with temporary alleviation measures to continue on the post-primary transport scheme services.  These temporary alleviation measures allow for  funds to be  allocated to those areas where there is a significant number of post-primary pupils  who apply and pay on time who fulfil the eligibility distance criteria from their nearest school but who were attending their second nearest school.   

Accordingly, concessionary tickets will be allocated subject to capacity and available resources.  School Transport Scheme services for the upcoming school year will continue to operate in line with prevailing public health guidelines. 

Wider considerations relating to the objectives of the scheme and the criteria for eligibility will take place in the next phase of the review which is now underway.  The Steering Group will continue to report to the Minister on an interim basis as the review progresses, with a view to presenting a final report with recommendations on the future operation of the Department’s School Transport Scheme.