School transport fees to rise by nearly 50%

Mike Appleyard
Mike Appleyard

School transport fees are to increase by nearly 50% while Bucks County Council has also put an end to free travel for older teens from hard-up familes.

The changes, which come into effect from September 2014, will save the council £1.5m a year and come after a consultation with parents.

Annual tickets for under-16s will rise 46% from £390 to £570, although there is a 50% reduction for sibling groups of three or more resident at the same address.

Main changes for post-16 students include an increase to the pricing structures by 5%.

In addition, free transport for students aged 16-19 years old from low income households will cease.

The council says it is ‘not legally obliged to provide home to school transport to pupils aged 16 or over, to those from low income families or with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). Nor is it required to provide transport for pupils who attend a Buckinghamshire school but live outside of the county’.

However, it says those in need of financial support can apply directly to their education and training providers for a 16-19 government funded bursary scheme to help pay for costs such as equipment needed for the course, lunch, or transport to and from the learner’s school or college.

This funding is given directly to education and training providers, and not to the local authority.

Mike Appleyard, Buckinghamshire County Council’s cabinet member for education and skills said: “I appreciate that any changes to our home to school transport policy, particularly the proposals to increase charging will have an impact on parents across Buckinghamshire, however, the stark reality is that if the cost reductions don’t come from home to school transport now they are likely to impact more directly on children’s education, and we still need to make substantial savings as part of the national squeeze on public sector spending.

“Reaching our final decisions was not easy, but hope we have managed to reflect both the needs of the council and those from parents, carers and schools.”

He added: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank all parents, carers, young people, and schools who took part in our consultation either online or at one of the 11 public meetings held across the County.

“Their views and suggestions were crucial to my decision making process.”