Free transport has economic benefit of €14 million; 3,000 less cars on the road

The extension of free school transport to church and independent school has led to 4,777 more students making use of shared transportation.

The economic benefit of this measure has been valued by Grant Thornton at €14.3 million.

This increase in collective transportation also means that there are 3,185 less cars on the road. At the time of data collation1, the waiting list figure was c.900 while the total number of students using transport stood at 25,081 students (non-state – 11,081 students and state – 14,000 students).

These figures are changing continuously, but in terms of uptake and decrease of cars on the road it is expected that throughout this scholastic year they will continue to improve and provide increasing benefits as more students find transport. In fact, the total number of non-state students using organised school transport has now increased to around 12,000 students. This means that the total economic benefits resulting from this initiative are higher than the estimates outlined above.

Parents saving hundreds of euros

In the past scholastic year, the only incentive present was a deduction from parents’ taxable income capped at €150 and included an element of paperwork and bureaucratic process (Form VEH 65 – application form for parents using approved School Transport Operators for their children). This is no longer the case in the way this measure has been implemented from this year.

Today, the average parent saves a total of c. €550 per child in transport cost.

New requests mean that numbers of those without service are still at same levels

The continuous number of new requests means that those who registered their interest in the initiative but have not found an operator have remained in the same levels as that of the first day of schooling.

This is because those students who are allocated a service are replaced by a new group of students who are requesting transport by registering their interest now.

Discussions underway with operators

The total number of operators currently in the scheme is 127.

The operational side of this initiative is being discussed by the Ministry with different operators. It is clear that the biggest hurdle to an increase of supply is the availability of drivers, since operators are inclined to invest in more vehicles and some have already done so. Demand is still, at present, deemed higher than supply.

The fact that there are still parents and students who have not been able to secure transportation means that the Ministry will continue to work intensely to make sure that the service is made available to all those that require it.

Analysis of data was conducted between 3th October 2018 and 5th October 2018 and compiled on 12th October 2018.