Primary school transport charges set to double

SCHOOL transport charges for primary school children will be doubled in the budget under plans being considered by the Government.

Annual charges are set to rise from €50 to €100 for individual children. The maximum charge where more than one child from a family uses transport services will also double from €110 to €220.

Rural families will be hit hardest by the measures, which will only scrape an estimated €2 million off the annual €178m school transport costs met by the Department of Education.

Junior Education Minister Ciaran Cannon faced a backlash from parents earlier this year when he drove ahead with the previous administration’s plans to introduce primary school transport charges and cut back on routes.

Charges currently apply to approximately 20,000 of the 36,000 primary school children who avail of the transport services.

Just under 12,000 are exempt from charges under medical card rules, while 4,000 are on concessionary rates, which will decrease from €200 to €100 under the plans.

In total, 123,000 primary and secondary school children use the transport scheme, which is run by Bus Éireann but paid for by the department.

Transport charges for secondary school children, which currently stand at a maximum of €650 per family, are also set to rise.

The increased charges will take effect from the start of the next school year.

The cost of school transport to the state per pupil per year is about €1,000.

There are also plans for administrative changes by Bus Éireann that could save €14m-€17m.

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