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Ireland: ‘School Transport 2030’ – new developments of the school transport scheme

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Ireland: ‘School Transport 2030’ – new developments of the school transport scheme

22 March 2024
bus stop sign
Country news

A new report, the “School Transport Scheme 2030”, was recently published in Ireland which is considered the largest review of the School Transport Scheme since it was established in 1967. Around 161,000 pupils currently travel to school using the school transport scheme. The review has recommended expanding access to the scheme so that an additional 100,000 pupils can be carried by 2030.  


The report also identified the potential for the scheme to reduce carbon emissions by reducing the number of students being driven to school. Furthermore, the scheme also plays an important role in supporting rural connectivity and tackling rural deprivation.  An extensive stakeholder engagement process was conducted as part of the review, including consultation with parents, students, providers and other key stakeholders. 


Moreover, the review recommends eliminating the requirement for students to attend their ‘nearest school’ to give students and parents greater choice and flexibility.  However, this is only where there are existing bus routes to use or where there is sufficient parental demand for a new route (10 pupils or more). Another recommendation is the reduction of the distances required for students to qualify for it. 


The following series of changes will take effect this September: 

  • New pilot projects will begin involving post-primary pupils travelling to school on public bus routes and reduced distance criteria. 

  • There will be a new way of calculating the distance requirement for the school transport scheme with more modern mapping technology being introduced in time for the start of the 2025/2026 school year.  

  • There will be an increase in the special transport grant, which goes to families who prefer to provide their own transport for their children with special educational needs or where there isn’t a service available. 

  • There are around 4,000 school bus escorts who travel with children with special education needs on mini-buses or taxis. Their terms and conditions and pay rates will be reviewed by the end of this year. 



The review has recommended phasing in the rule changes on distance and nearest school from the school year starting in September 2025 so that there is time to assess the results of the pilot projects, and to secure the additional school buses and drivers that will be required.  


The findings of the report also include that expanding the school transport scheme to carry an additional 100,000 pupils will increase the cost from €444 million now to €672m in 2030. But it also found that if no changes are made (the “do nothing” scenario), then the scheme will cost €678 million to carry the existing number of pupils. It has been also confirmed that that the charges for the school transport scheme will remain at the same reduced rates for the upcoming 2024/2025 school year. 


For more information: School transport (


Source: Eurydice Unit Ireland 

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