School transport for 4-16 year olds

You have a legal responsibility to ensure that your child attends school regularly and this includes arranging travel to and from school, meeting the costs of this and accompanying your child as necessary. In some cases, we have a legal obligation to provide free school transport. Normally this will be a bus or rail service from a home address to the nearest school. The service will run at the beginning and the end of the normal school day and no transport is available for out-of-hours activities.

We will help your child with home to school transport if your child is attending their nearest school and:

  • They live over three miles from school (over two miles if they're under eight), or
  • They have income-based free school meals and live over two miles from school, or
  • Their route to school is less than three miles, but too dangerous to walk even when accompanied

Apply for free school transport

If you don't qualify for free transport

If you don't qualify for free transport you may be eligible for the Vacant Seat Payment Scheme. If we have a spare seat on a bus we may be able to 'sell' that seat to you in return for a termly contribution. The seat may be withdrawn, however, with one week's notice, if an entitled passenger requires it.

If your application is approved a bus pass will be sent to school for collection on the first day of term. You will need to meet the allocated bus at a stop along its existing route, and travel between home and the stop remains the responsibility of parents.

The current full charge for parental contributions for 2024/25 is £1,000 a year, either paid in advance online by debit or credit card, or monthly by direct debit in 10 instalments from September to June. If you apply after 31 July your monthly payments will differ, see the table below for details. You will be asked your payment preference when you apply. If paying in full you will be sent details of how to pay if your application is approved. A pass will not be issued until payment is received.

Please be aware, any non-payments will result in passes being withdrawn. View our debt recovery policy.

Direct debit payment amounts

Application date Balance Monthly payment No. of payments First payment Total cost
Before 31 July £1,000 £100.00 10 1 Sep £1,000
1 Aug to 31 Aug £1,000 £111.11 9 1 Oct £1,000
1 Sep to 30 Sep £1,000 £125.00 8 1 Nov £1,000
1 Oct to 31 Oct £889 £127.00 7 1 Dec £889
1 Nov to 30 Nov £789 £131.50 6 1 Jan £789
1 Dec to 31 Dec £684 £136.80 5 1 Feb £684
1 Jan to 31 Jan £605 £151.25 4 1 Mar £605
1 Feb to 28 Feb £498 £166.00 3 1 Apr £498
1 Mar to 31 Mar £421 £210.50 2 1 May £421

Apply for paid school transport

Definition of 'nearest school'

The Department for Education (DfE) states: "The definition for nearest school is taken to mean the nearest qualifying school with places available that provides education appropriate to the age, ability and aptitude of the child, and any Special Educational Needs that the child may have". We cannot help with transport if you choose to send your child to a school other than the nearest school. Transport is only available between the school and your home address - you cannot use this transport to take your child to a second address or childcare facilities.

Find your nearest school

Other circumstances

There are other situations and circumstances which can affect the help we can offer with school transport. If any of the following apply, please download and read the full school transport policy for more information:

  • If your child lives at more than one home address
  • If your child was not able to get a place at the nearest school because it is oversubscribed
  • If your child has special educational needs, disability or mobility problems and is unable to walk to school
  • If your child is receiving free school transport and you are moving to a house where your child's school will no longer be the nearest school
  • If your child is moving school because of a permanent exclusion or managed move

If you require further advice, please contact us.

Contact school transport

School transport applications - privacy notice