School transport options including spare seat scheme

2. The Spare Seat Scheme

By law, the council must provide school bus services for those pupils who are eligible for free transport. The Council runs school buses where required for children who qualify. On some routes there may be a limited number of spare seats that are not needed for eligible children. We offer these seats to parents who wish to pay for a place for their child through the Spare Seat Scheme.

Starting with places for the autumn term 2021, the Spare Seat Scheme is changing. New seats will now be advertised a term-by-term basis, rather than through an ongoing waiting list.

This means there will be more regular opportunities for parents to purchase spare seats when they are available.

The key steps in getting a spare seat are:

  1. Parent applies for a seat. (applications will open on 24 June 2021 and close on 19 July 2021) – The Council will publish information on which bus routes, including stops, on 24 June 2021, this will be followed by further information on the number of spare seats available for purchase on each bus after seats are allocated to eligible students.
  2. Notification of outcome and acceptance of offer. We will notify all applicants of whether we can offer them a seat. If you are not successful, you will need to make alternative arrangements for transporting your child to school. If you are offered a seat you must pay and provide a photograph of your child.
  3. Bus pass issued.

    Once we receive your payment and your child’s photograph, we will print and send their bus pass to you.

Application stage

Once we know exactly how many seats are needed by eligible pupils, the remaining available spare seats will be advertised on the website, listed by route.  This will allow parents to see straightaway whether their desired route has seats available. Full details will be provided on how to apply, should a suitable place be available.

We will advertise spare seat availability at least two months before the beginning of each term. For the autumn term 2021, we are expecting to publish available spare seats during the week of 24 June 2021. Once details of spare seats go live on our website, there will be a three-week window in which to apply.

We are also introducing a new priority system to help make spare seat allocation clearer and fairer. This is set out in our terms and conditions of travel.

Once you have been offered and have accepted a place on the Spare Seat Scheme we will assume that you require the seat for the whole year, unless you tell us otherwise. You will not need to reapply each term. However, we cannot guarantee that spare seats will continue to be available on any particular route – see our terms and conditions of travel.

Outcome and acceptance

If you apply for a spare seat, you will be told of the outcome of your application at least one month before the beginning of the start of term. For the autumn term 2021 this will be by the end of July. As the number of spare seats on offer is limited, you should not rely on getting one. You should always plan an alternative way of getting your child to and from school in case your application is unsuccessful.

If your application is successful, we will provide you with details of the seat you have secured and ask you to confirm the place by arranging payment by the deadline of 17 August. Payment can be made online in advance for a term or for the full year, or you can opt to pay in monthly instalments by setting up a Direct Debit.

If you miss the payment deadline, you risk losing the offer of a place.

Bus pass issued

Once payment is in place, we will issue your child’s bus pass. This should arrive within 10 days of receiving your payment.

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Last updated: 20 April 2021

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