Written Answers - School Transport.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 663 No. 3

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  342.  Deputy Fergus O’Dowd  Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe   the agreement between his Department, Bus Éireann and private operators regarding the installation of safety belts on buses used for school runs; the funds granted by his Department for this purpose; the number of Bus Éireann buses retrofitted; the number of private buses retrofitted; the funds granted by his Department between Bus Éireann and private operators; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34565/08]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science (Deputy Seán Haughey): Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  My Department agreed to fund the full cost of developing specifications for the retrofitting of seat belts in line with the guidelines published by the Department of Transport in June 2006, to both the Bus Éireann school bus fleet and to buses owned by private operators on contract to Bus Éireann under the school transport scheme. Eighteen specifications were developed using Bus Éireann school buses and forty-seven specifications were developed using private contractors’ buses, the full cost of which was met by my Department. In cases where private contractors’ buses were subjected to the standard pull-test, the full cost of carrying out the test and fitting the bus with seat belts was met by my Department.

[709]In addition, the full cost of retrofitting the Bus Éireann school buses, based on the guidelines published by the Department of Transport in June 2006, was met by my Department. Provision was also made to grant-aid private contractors who retrofitted their buses with seat belts to the same standard utilising the specifications that were developed in this programme. In general, the grant aid payable to private contractors was equivalent to half the cost of retrofitting seat belts subject to a maximum of €3,000 for a large bus.

Bus Éireann has informed my Department that approximately 650 of their school bus fleet were retrofitted with seat belts in this programme and in the region of 100 buses owned by the private contractors were included in the programme.

The cost to-date of the safety belt programme for buses under the school transport scheme is approximately €6.4 million —€5 million for the Bus Éireann school bus fleet and €1.4 million for private contractors buses. The amount includes costs associated with the development of pull test specifications, retrofitting of safety belts and inspections of safety belts fitted to school buses.


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