Apply for a spare seat
Updated news on our discretionary travel scheme
We may be able to offer your child a spare seat on existing school transport under our discretionary travel scheme if they:
- Live closer than the minimum distance for their age (two miles for children up to eight years old, three miles for children aged eight and older)
- Are not attending their catchment or nearest school
The following rules will apply from September 2020:
- The home to school transport policy will remain the same as before and spare seats will be available to children who are not entitled to free school transport where we can offer them
- There will be a charge for any seat that is offered as detailed in our information sheet for 2020-21
- The offer of a spare seat will depend on availability, based on the capacity of a vehicle and the number of eligible children that we need to transport
It is very important to remember that with the current coronavirus situation we may not be able to have as many children travelling on a school bus at the same time and there will be less chance we will be able to sell a spare seat.
See our School Transport Policy for information about the priority order for allocating spare seats.
Although we'll do our best to offer a discretionary place, as per the terms and availability outlined above, the Council is not responsible for school transport if your child is not attending the catchment or nearest school or they live within the qualifying distances outlined above. Although we will try and give priority to those who have received transport in the previous academic year, if we cannot offer a seat because there is no space or we are trying to maintain some social distancing, I am afraid our decision is final.
The Council has never guaranteed transport for anyone who purchases a seat under our discretionary travel scheme and if, during the school year, the seat is needed for a pupil who is entitled to school transport, the discretionary place for your child can be withdrawn at a week’s notice. In these circumstances if the place is withdrawn before half term a pro-rata refund will be made of half the contribution made.
Updated news on our discretionary travel scheme for 2021/22
The Government is committed to ensuring that disabled school and college students have the same opportunity to travel on mainstream services with their peers as non-disabled children do. This is why PSVAR (Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations) were introduced in 2000 to improve accessibility onboard buses and coaches designed to carry over 22 passengers.
It is now written in law that from the 1 January 2020 we cannot sell seats on vehicles that have more than 22 seats and are not accessible to people who are disabled.
Due to the impact on school transport and children who are not entitled to free school transport, that ruling has been relaxed for a year and we can currently sell seats in the academic year September 2020 – July 2021.
However, it is very important to understand that the current relaxation of the law implemented by Ministers and the Department for Transport (DfT) will expire on 31 July 2021. This means that from the next academic year (September 2021) we will not be able to sell spare seats on vehicles that have more than 22 seats and are not accessible to people who are disabled - this applies to most coaches where you have to step up onto the vehicle, so most ‘normal’ school buses.
We will be able to sell spare seats on accessible vehicles which have a low-floor entry, but as these usually operate as a local bus service you would need to purchase your ticket direct from the operator.
It is very unlikely that the government will offer another exemption as they have this year, so it is very important to always have an alternative plan of getting your child to school if we have to withdraw your seat at a week’s notice. Looking forward to the next academic year 21/22, as detailed above, you should seriously consider how you will get your child to school as the Council will not be able to offer a spare seat - as the Council is not legally responsible for your child’s transport there will also be no right to appeal.
May 21 update - We appreciate you may be anxious to know what our discretionary policy is from September 21, however, we are currently in communication with the DfT who have yet to confirm to us what their decision is. As it currently stands, for September 21, we can only sell seats on accessible vehicles i.e. low floor entry vehicles or if the vehicle has less than 22 seats, assuming there is space and NOT on inaccessible vehicles i.e. usually a coach, like most ‘normal’ school buses.
As soon as we know more information we shall update our website. Please do not contact us as until then as we will not know the answer. It is very important you consider now how you will get your child to school in September 21 if we cannot sell you a spare seat.
Make a school transport application for 2020-21
You may find the alternative travel options listed here helpful.
Pupils attending their appropriate school who do not qualify under the general policy for free transport may also be able to get help if:
- A combination of factors exist relating to the physical nature of the route which makes it unavailable to walk, accompanied as necessary
- Their family has had to move due to an emergency beyond the family’s control
- The child has mobility problems or a severe medical condition which means they are unable to walk to school, accompanied as necessary
See sections 5.2 and 5.3 of our transport policy for more information
Email firstname.lastname@example.org If you have questions about your child’s eligibility for free school transport.