Proposed changes to home to school transport from September 2023 consultation

Closes 4 Dec 2022

Opened 19 Oct 2022

Overview

Buckinghamshire Council logo

We want your views on proposed changes to council-run school bus charges (Spare Seats scheme), our Home to School Transport Policy (0 to 25 year olds) and our Post-16 Transport Policy Statement for 2023 to 2024 to make them easier to understand.

We have reviewed how we charge for spare seats on school buses, our Home to School Transport Policy and our Post-16 Transport Policy Statement.

This consultation is your opportunity to tell us your views on proposals for:

  • Spare Seats Scheme charging options
  • Updates to our home to school transport policies

Any changes will apply for the 2023 to 2024 academic year onwards and will apply to both new and existing customers.

Spare Seats Scheme charging options

We run school buses for children who are eligible for free school transport.

After we have allocated seats to all young people who are eligible for free school transport, the Spare Seats Scheme offers paid-for seats on timetabled Council-run school buses.

In 2021 to 2022, Buckinghamshire Council spent approximately £4 million on school buses. At the same time, income from spare seat ticket sales was £0.5 million - contributing towards the overall costs of running school buses.

The current Spare Seats Scheme charge depends on age, distance and whether boarding within or outside of Buckinghamshire. Customers have told us that this structure is complex and difficult to understand.

We are proposing to simplify school bus ticket charges for the Spare Seats Scheme. The proposed changes will even out the cost of travel over a child’s whole school career by:

  • reducing the cost of post-16 travel for some Spare Seats passengers
  • making it easier for parents and carers to know upfront how much they will have to pay before applying for a seat

We want to know your preference between three proposed Spare Seat scheme charging options:

  • Option 1: Distance banding (small difference between distance bands)
  • Option 2: Distance banding (medium difference between distance bands)
  • Option 3: Flat fee (regardless of distance)

More Information

  • We are removing the price increase that may apply when Spare Seat customers reach sixth form age (post-16)
    • No post-16 young person will see an age-related increase in the cost of their spare seat while they continue to travel on the same bus to the same school
    • The parent / carer of an 11 year old child will be able to plan ahead. They will know they won’t be subject to an age-related price increase once their child is post-16 - if they continue to travel on the same bus to the same school
  • Our Spare Seats scheme charges will be easier to understand
  • Non-Buckinghamshire Council residents will pay a higher fee to customers who live within Buckinghamshire

There are no other changes proposed to the Spare Seat Scheme offer, application process or prioritisation policy. Only the Spare Seat charges will change from the 2023 to 2024 academic year.

Proposed changes to school transport policy

The Home to School Transport Policy sets out our approach to providing transport to schools / educational settings for students up to 19 years old (up to 25 years for students with special educational needs and disabilities).

The Post-16 Transport Policy Statement sets out transport arrangements for students aged 16 and over. It specifies the transport arrangements we consider necessary for sixth form students to attend education or training.

We are proposing some minor changes to our school transport policies to make them clearer and easier to understand. These updates are highlighted in yellow in the draft policy documents below.

We want to hear your views on whether these updates have made our policies easier to understand.

We are also proposing a 3% increase to the charge for Post-16 students with SEND using Buckinghamshire Council arranged transport. This is below the rate of inflation (9.9% as of September 2022) and despite rising transport costs.

We are not proposing any further substantial changes to the Home to School Transport Policy or the Post-16 Transport Policy Statement 2023 to 2024.

Related documents

Before you respond to this consultation, please have a look at the following documents:

Online events to find out more

We are running two online events via Microsoft Teams Live to find out more about the proposals and ask any questions. You will need to book to attend using the links below:

  • Spare Seats Scheme charging options. Thursday 10 November 2022, from at 7pm to 8pm. This event has been cancelled due to a lack of bookings
  • Proposed changes to school transport policy. Wednesday 16 November 2022, at 7pm to 8pm. This event has been cancelled due to a lack of bookings

How to have your say

You can tell us your views in one of the following ways:

If you have any questions about this consultation, please email us at H2STpolicyconsultation@buckinghamshire.gov.uk, phone us on 01296 387439 or sign up to one of our consultation events.

Please tell us your views by midnight on Sunday 4 December 2022.

What happens next

We will consider all the feedback we receive before deciding on the new Spare Seat Scheme charging approach and the proposed changes to Home to School Transport Policy and Post-16 Transport Policy Statement. The decision will be made by the Leader of Buckinghamshire Council in April 2023.

Once the decision has been made, we will revise the spare seat charges for September 2023 and publish the new Home to School Transport Policy and Post-16 Transport Policy Statement.

They will apply to school transport from September 2023. We will update this page with the outcome of the consultation.

Privacy

We will use the information you provide here only for this activity. We will store the information securely in line with data protection laws and will not share or publish any personal details. For more information about data and privacy, please see our Privacy Policy.

If you have questions about data and privacy, please email us on dataprotection@buckinghamshire.gov.uk. Or write to our Data Protection Officer at Buckinghamshire Council, The Gateway, Gatehouse Road, Aylesbury, HP19 8FF.

Give us your views

Areas

  • All Areas

Interests

  • Transport
  • Schools & education
  • Children & young people