Change to guidelines for the provision of secondary school bus services
The West Yorkshire Combined Authority organises and subsidises a range of school bus services for around 25,000 pupils and students across West Yorkshire. These services are provided where suitable public transport services are not available.
The organisation uses a set of guidelines (see note below), approved by the Combined Authority in 2014, to determine whether a subsidised school bus service should be provided. These assume that pupils and students of secondary school age are able to use public transport where this is available. A “reasonableness” test is applied to establish this.
Note - Please be aware that these guidelines are different from local council School Transport Policies, which are used to determine if pupils are entitled to free travel. Entitlement to free travel will not be affected by the changes to the guidelines.
Given ongoing pressure to reduce local authority budgets, the Combined Authority must ensure that limited taxpayer investment is targeted where it is most needed. As a result, we are planning to revise the guidelines on the provision of subsidised school bus services from 1 July 2019 and are seeking the views of service users and other interested parties before doing so. The new guidelines would come into effect at the start of the new school year – 1 September 2019.
A copy of the proposed new guidelines can be found here.
The main proposed changes to the guidelines are:
Distance from school – Subsidised school bus services will not normally be provided where pupils are attending a school that is more than four miles (6.5 km) from their home address. It will be assumed in these cases that this is a matter of parental preference. We have developed an online map(External link), which shows the area around schools that would normally be served.It is expected that pupils living outside this area would be provided transport on a commercial basis (see below) or would have longer public transport journeys. Discretion will be applied where schools are located in rural or semi-rural areas or where services serve rural or semi-rural communities.
Requests to serve new areas - Subsidised school bus services will not normally be introduced where currently no public transport link exists. As information on school services is publicly available, it will be assumed that parents have chosen a school in the knowledge that there is no direct public transport link and already have alternative transport arrangements in place.
Walking or cycling to school – Subsidised school bus services will not normally be provided for pupils who live less than 1.5 miles (2.4km) (30 minute walk) from their school. Pupils who live within this distance may be expected to walk or cycle to and from school. The online schools map(External link) also provides an indication of acceptable walking distances for each school.
Commercial school bus services – Subsidised school bus services may be withdrawn where commercial bus operators are willing to provide a service on the basis that parents meet the whole cost of the service (typically £500-£700 per child per year). It is expected that this would only apply to current services that fall outside of the new criteria.
Selective schools – Subsidised school bus services will not normally be provided where the school admissions policy is based on academic selection. It is expected that these would be replaced by commercial services as described above.
Post-16 – Subsidised school bus services will not normally be provided for young people in the 16-18 age group. In practice, many students in this age group do not travel at fixed times to and from school, and are usually confident public transport users. Please note that, in applying the new guidelines, the Combined Authority would take all aspects affecting the journey from home to school into account.
A list of existing services that would be reviewed under the new guidelines can be downloaded here.
Please note that local councils fund some schools’ services because they meet (or were first introduced to meet) the needs of pupils who qualify for free travel under the local councils’ policies. A list of these of these services can be downloaded here. Unless local council funding is withdrawn, these services would not be affected without prior agreement with the relevant local council.
If you would like to comment on the changes to the guidelines, please complete the questionnaire using the link below before 15 March 2019.
Depending on the feedback received, the guidelines may be revised, subject the availability of funding. Any new guidelines (reflecting feedback received) will come into effect from 1 July 2019, with the new services running from 1 September 2019.
Get in touch:
You can get in touch and have your say in a number of different ways:
Complete our survey using the survey tool below (closing date 15 March).
Please note this is for parents and pupils only.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org Ask us a question using the Q & A tool below
Write to us at: FREEPOST Consultation Team (WYCA)