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Dublin: 18°C Thursday 18 August 2022

After yet another challenge, it's been decided Bus Éireann will stay on the school run

The Court of Appeal has upheld a ruling that allows the semi-state to operate the service.

26/6/2009. Bus Eireann Buses Source: Mark Stedman/

A COURT OF Appeal decision has secured the future of the bus system that provides transportation for Ireland’s school children, following a challenge that the routes should be put out to tender.

Judge Gerard Hogan has upheld a previous High Court ruling that Bus Éireann should be able to continue in its role operating the network of buses.

Using a network of subcontractors, Bus Éireann provides transport that facilitates what it says are Ireland’s ‘dispersed population patterns’.

Making his ruling today, Judge Hogan noted that “the school transport system is an essential feature of rural life” and that “but for the scheme, many children – especially those living in outlying rural areas might have difficulty in attending school”.

Why is this important?

While it isn’t clear what shape a bus service operated by a company other than semi-state Bus Éireann would look like, there are no guarantees that transitioning to a different operator would be a smooth process.

In a statement released today, Bus Éireann has said that it currently transports 114,000 children, and that providing this service depends on working with subcontractors that account for 90% of its total vehicles used.

12/5/2013. Bus Eireann Strikes Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Welcoming the decision, chief executive of the bus company Martin Nolan said:

We have been operating this vital transport scheme across Ireland carrying the children of the State for almost 50 years. This makes us one of the most experienced school transport service providers – on a national scale – in the world, which is a record we are very proud of.

Where did all this come from?

The original challenge taken by a company called Student Transport Scheme Ltd to the European Union’s commercial court back in 2012.

What it wanted to show was that the current contract between the bus company and the Department of Education was ineffective, and that the government should have to put it out to public tender.

When the case (in which Bus Éireann was a notice party to proceedings) made its way to the High Court in October 2012 it was ruled that – rather than being a contract between the government and Bus Éireann – its operation was in fact an administrative arrangement.

On these grounds, the judge ruled against a declaration of ineffectiveness and Bus Éireann was able to continue in its current role – a judgement that was upheld in today’s Court of Appeal ruling.

Read: Bus Éireann welcomes High Court ruling on school transport scheme

Also: Bus Éireann to lay on extra services for Easter weekend

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