School bus services cancelled as freezing temperatures have a knock-on effect on travel

Bus Éireann said freezing fog and low temperatures throughout the country hit some services in Kerry, Cork, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal and Galway

Numerous school bus services were cancelled across seven counties on Monday morning as the country woke to another day of freezing temperatures and knock-on effects to travel.

Bus Éireann operates more than 8,000 routes on behalf of the Department of Education, a level of service that made some disruption unavoidable in the current weather conditions.

Freezing fog and low temperatures throughout the country hit some services in counties Kerry, Cork, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal and Galway, particularly around Clifden.

This was a consequence of both road conditions and school closures. Other services were simply delayed, while the transport operator said reports on route status were still coming through on Monday morning.


The school bus services are “designed to provide transport for children living remotely from their closest school, and as a result often operates on secondary roads,” a spokeswoman said.

“As a result school transport can experience more weather-related disruption than public transport services.”

Decisions as to whether a service can operate safely are based on highly localised knowledge and experience of the weather and road conditions, which are assessed each morning.

In some cases, part of a route may operate while another section, often on higher ground where conditions can be more perilous, may not.

“Safety is the priority and where it is safe to operate, every effort is made to do so. As much contact as possible is maintained with schools and families at local level where services are unavoidably disrupted,” the spokeswoman said.

A spokesman for the Department of Education said any decisions about closing a particular route or part of a route are made at local level.

As regards the potential for short notice cancellations, he said such decisions, by their nature, are often made and communicated under severe time and information constraints and that Bus Éireann makes “every effort to take these decisions as early as possible and to communicate effectively to families impacted”.

“Where it is necessary in the interests of safety not to operate a particular route of section of a route, communications of all such decisions issues locally between Bus Éireann and parents/school principals. Bus Éireann also updates its website and social media accounts.”

Earlier on Monday, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien said schools generally would remain open this week with principals and boards of management exercising discretion.

“We are conscious in the North West as well that there has been snow in the Donegal and Mayo region and also in to Galway,” he told RTE.

“But we don’t expect wholesale school closures. We will leave that to discretion as well in specific incidences. Where there might be a local issue with regards to weather or access it would be normal for a principal and a Board of Management to make a call. But schools will remain open this week.”

On wider road conditions, Mr O’Brien anticipated that secondary roads and footpaths would be gritted this week.

“The main focus firstly obviously will be on primary routes and we discussed the secondary routes and indeed paths in villages and around schools and shops and that. We have a sufficient supply of salt and grit and that is happening.”

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times