One-fifth of secondary school buses will run at half capacity, Bus Éireann says

Latest public health advice states students should maintain safe distance while on buses

Last year, 38,000 primary students and 68,000 post-primary students used the School Transport Scheme. File photograph

Last year, 38,000 primary students and 68,000 post-primary students used the School Transport Scheme. File photograph

 

One-fifth of Bus Éireann’s transport for second level students will run at the recommended 50 per cent capacity from the start of the school year.

The State-owned transport company said that in response to the Government’s decision to halve the capacity on post-primary school transport due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is “reviewing all 2,100 post-primary routes to determine which solution can most quickly and appropriately deliver the 50 per cent capacity”.

The latest public health advice states that secondary students should maintain a safe distance while on board school buses. As such, the majority of second level school buses will operate without social distancing when schools reopen tomorrow.

The company says solutions to the capacity issue will range from schedule changes to additional resources in terms of vehicles and drivers and that 20 per cent (one-fifth) of the services will be at half capacity from the start of the school year.

Bus Éireann says it is now accepting applications from taxi drivers and bus operators who want to apply for work driving students to school.

While some students returned to school last week, schools across the country will reopen this week. Last year, 38,000 primary students and 68,000 post-primary students used the School Transport Scheme.

This year, all children aged 13 years and over must wear face masks while waiting for and on-board transport services, the exception being those who for medical or special educational needs reasons are not in a position to wear a face mask or face covering. Primary school students should physically distance where possible on buses, but do not need to wear face coverings, the latest advice says.

Bus Éireann says there will be enhanced cleaning of school buses, including between morning and afternoon services.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education has said a grant will be available for post-primary students who are eligible for school transport but whose parents or guardians have decided to make private transport arrangements arising from the most recent health advice. However, this must be notified to the department by this Friday, September 4th by emailing schooltransportrefunds2020@education.gov.ie.