Almost three quarters (72%) of local education authorities in England are cutting or considering cutting school transport according to new figures collected through freedom of information requests by the Campaign for Better Transport.
- 38% of councils are reviewing or cutting transport to faith schools;
- 46% are reviewing or cutting transport to schools other than faith schools; and
- 51% are reviewing or cutting post-16 transport.
Councils are obliged to provide free school transport for pupils between five and 16-years-old if their nearest school is over three miles away, or two miles if they are under eight. Children with special educational needs or from low income families are also provided for. Any other school transport is provided by local authorities on a discretionary basis.
“School buses are vital to reduce congestion and pollution, especially at peak times. In some areas parents have to walk almost three miles each way, twice a day, just to get their children to school,” said Sophie Allain, CBT’s bus campaigner.
“Parents able to drive instead will add to traffic problems, but for a quarter of households who do not have a car this will not be an option.”
CBT is appealing to the government to give councils extra funding to ensure children get to school safely without impinging on parents’ work-life.
The charity seeks new government guidelines to determine a route can only be deemed safe if a child of 11 is able to walk it alone.
It is asking councils to do more and to create real alternatives, like introducing safe walking routes and cycle paths.
Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said: “The scale of cuts to local bus services has left many parents struggling to afford the extra costs of driving their children to school or to juggle work with doing the school run.”