Wednesday, 31 May 2000
Dáil Eireann Debate
182. Mr. Boylan asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of school buses presently in operation; the number of school buses under ten years old and over ten years old; if all buses were NCT tested before September 1999; if he has satisfied himself that all buses are provided with proper seat belts in accordance with present road safety regulations; and if he will state that there is no overcrowding on school buses. [15649/00]
Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): Safety on school buses is of paramount importance to my Department and to Bus Éireann, who operate the school transport scheme on behalf of my Department. Bus Éireann has a very good safety record in the operation of school transport and an ongoing commitment to highlight safety in this regard. I should also mention that the age profile and quality of vehicle of the Bus Éireann school bus fleet is being significantly improved due to the ongoing programme of fleet replacement.
Bus Éireann vehicles are serviced every six weeks under specified maintenance procedures to ensure that the highest safety standards are achieved. Any faults coming to the notice of Bus Éireann's maintenance staff are dealt with immediately. A large proportion of the existing Bus Éireann school bus fleet was refurbished during summer 1999.
All vehicles operating under the scheme are required to meet the statutory regulations as laid down by the Department of the Environment and Local Government and are subject to a roadworthiness test. Where vehicles have over eight adult seats and are more than one year old, they are required to pass that Department's annual roadworthiness test.
Vehicles nominated for use under the scheme  must be suitable for the conveyance of school children and must have complete and current documentation in respect of both buses and drivers as required by law. This includes a PSV licence, certificate of roadworthiness, certificate of insurance and tax disc. Drivers must have a valid driving licence for the class of vehicle to be  driven. The vehicles have to be kept and maintained in a safe and roadworthy condition and to comply in all respects with the Road Traffic Acts. Vehicles must be kept clean internally and externally to the satisfaction of Bus Éireann. Contractor's vehicles are subject to inspection and testing by Bus Éireann inspectors from time to time to ensure the safety of pupils travelling on buses.
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