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Written Answers. - School Transport.

Wednesday, 18 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 559 No. 6

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 120. Mr. Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten  asked the Minister for Education and Science Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey  the cost of implementing each of the recommendations of the Education Committee report on school transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26849/02]

 125. Mr. Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten  asked the Minister for Education and Science Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey  if he will implement the recommendations of the Education Committee report on school transport. [26920/02]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey I propose to take Questions Nos. 120 and 125 together.

In 2001, following a review of the school transport scheme and taking account of the recommendations of the Oireachtas Joint Committee Report on School Transport, a number of improvements were put in place.

These included reducing the qualifying distance for eligibility for school transport for primary school pupils aged ten and over from 3 to 2 miles, so that all primary pupils are treated equally for eligibility purposes. The number of eligible primary pupils required to establish a new school bus service was reduced from ten to seven. All school transport vehicles were provided with a communication system to enable the driver to have ready access to the depot.

The scope of the remote area grants, payable to pupils in certain circumstances, was extended and the rate of grant payable increased. The travelling and waiting time for post primary pupils was reduced from 3 to 2.5 hours. Where feasible [1532]students who are on the early pick-up from their homes are the first to be dropped home in the evening and vice versa. The cost of introducing these improvements is estimated at approximately €3.75 million.

A consultation paper regarding safety on school buses, including the seating arrangements and the provision of seatbelts was produced by the Department of the Environment and Local Government, Bus Éireann and my Department. Submissions from interested parties were invited. Following an extended consultation period a large number of responses were received and are being reviewed with a view to identifying a range of specific proposals for implementation.

It is not possible, at this stage, to provide a costing regarding each recommendation of the committee report.


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