Government to spend up to €135m on 1,600 school bus routes

Government to spend up to €135m on 1,600 school bus routes

As well as additional funding, it will mean a significant acquisition of additional vehicles, drivers and bus escorts will be required. 

The Government has agreed to spend between €87 million and €135 million to ensure 1,600 school bus routes can operate fully while maintaining 50% capacity on services.

Public health advice states that the post-primary bus scheme should run at 50% capacity, which government says has been the case "where possible" while Bus Eireann carries out an analysis of the resources required to fully implement the advice on all routes.

Over 97,600 children are being transported daily to school on the Primary and Post-Primary Transport Schemes. A further 14,500 are being transported daily to school on the Transport Scheme for Children with Special Educational Needs.

Today, the Cabinet agreed to provide the necessary funding to ensure that buses can carry 50% capacity in the entire post-primary scheme and special needs post-primary service.

As well as additional funding, it will mean a significant acquisition of additional vehicles, drivers and bus escorts will be required. 

Bus Éireann will examine different avenues of providing extra capacity with existing operators, including upgrading vehicles, additional runs or additional vehicles being provided. 

The government says that Bus Éireann has put in place a framework of operators that are willing to provide additional services where required.

The estimated full-year cost to operate all post-primary services at 50% capacity is between €87m and €135m. The government has estimated a  requirement for an additional 1,600 drivers and vehicles and 650 additional school bus escorts. 

Sinn Féin has said that there are 6,120 fewer children being accommodated on school transport this year compared to last.

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