Change to guidelines for the provision of secondary school bus services

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Between 28 January and 15 March 2019, a period of public engagement was held regarding proposed changes to the guidelines for the provision of secondary school bus services. Following this period, the guidelines were presented with the feedback report and were approved by the Transport Committee with no amendments. They were implemented in September 2019.


The following information was available on this webpage during the engagement period:

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority organises and subsidises a range of school bus services for around 25,000 pupils and students across West Yorkshire. These services are provided where suitable public transport services are not available.

The organisation uses a set of guidelines (see note below), approved by the Combined Authority in 2014, to determine whether a subsidised school bus service should be provided. These assume that pupils and students of secondary school age are able to use public transport where this is available. A “reasonableness” test is applied to establish this.

Note - Please be aware that these guidelines are different from local council School Transport Policies, which are used to determine if pupils are entitled to free travel. Entitlement to free travel will not be affected by the changes to the guidelines.

Given ongoing pressure to reduce local authority budgets, the Combined Authority must ensure that limited taxpayer investment is targeted where it is most needed. As a result, we are planning to revise the guidelines on the provision of subsidised school bus services from 1 July 2019 and are seeking the views of service users and other interested parties before doing so. The new guidelines would come into effect at the start of the new school year – 1 September 2019.

A copy of the proposed new guidelines can be found here.

The main proposed changes to the guidelines are:

  • Distance from school – Subsidised school bus services will not normally be provided where pupils are attending a school that is more than four miles (6.5 km) from their home address. It will be assumed in these cases that this is a matter of parental preference. We have developed an online map, which shows the area around schools that would normally be served.It is expected that pupils living outside this area would be provided transport on a commercial basis (see below) or would have longer public transport journeys. Discretion will be applied where schools are located in rural or semi-rural areas or where services serve rural or semi-rural communities.
  • Requests to serve new areas - Subsidised school bus services will not normally be introduced where currently no public transport link exists. As information on school services is publicly available, it will be assumed that parents have chosen a school in the knowledge that there is no direct public transport link and already have alternative transport arrangements in place.
  • Walking or cycling to school – Subsidised school bus services will not normally be provided for pupils who live less than 1.5 miles (2.4km) (30 minute walk) from their school. Pupils who live within this distance may be expected to walk or cycle to and from school. The online schools map also provides an indication of acceptable walking distances for each school.
  • Commercial school bus services – Subsidised school bus services may be withdrawn where commercial bus operators are willing to provide a service on the basis that parents meet the whole cost of the service (typically £500-£700 per child per year). It is expected that this would only apply to current services that fall outside of the new criteria.
  • Selective schools – Subsidised school bus services will not normally be provided where the school admissions policy is based on academic selection. It is expected that these would be replaced by commercial services as described above.
  • Post-16 – Subsidised school bus services will not normally be provided for young people in the 16-18 age group. In practice, many students in this age group do not travel at fixed times to and from school, and are usually confident public transport users.

Please note that, in applying the new guidelines, the Combined Authority would take all aspects affecting the journey from home to school into account.

A list of existing services that would be reviewed under the new guidelines can be downloaded here.

Please note that local councils fund some schools’ services because they meet (or were first introduced to meet) the needs of pupils who qualify for free travel under the local councils’ policies. A list of these of these services can be downloaded here. Unless local council funding is withdrawn, these services would not be affected without prior agreement with the relevant local council.

If you would like to comment on the changes to the guidelines, please complete the questionnaire using the link below before 15 March 2019.

Depending on the feedback received, the guidelines may be revised, subject the availability of funding. Any new guidelines (reflecting feedback received) will come into effect from 1 July 2019, with the new services running from 1 September 2019.

Get in touch:

You can get in touch using the following methods:

  • Email us at yourvoice@westyorks-ca.gov.uk
  • Ask us a question using the Q & A tool below (closing date 15 March)
  • Write to us at: FREEPOST Consultation Team (WYCA)

You can also use the tools on the right hand side to sign up to our mailing list to be kept informed about the development of this project using the box or register to be added to the Your Voice community where you will receive information on opportunities to have your say on a variety of projects.

Between 28 January and 15 March 2019, a period of public engagement was held regarding proposed changes to the guidelines for the provision of secondary school bus services. Following this period, the guidelines were presented with the feedback report and were approved by the Transport Committee with no amendments. They were implemented in September 2019.


The following information was available on this webpage during the engagement period:

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority organises and subsidises a range of school bus services for around 25,000 pupils and students across West Yorkshire. These services are provided where suitable public transport services are not available.

The organisation uses a set of guidelines (see note below), approved by the Combined Authority in 2014, to determine whether a subsidised school bus service should be provided. These assume that pupils and students of secondary school age are able to use public transport where this is available. A “reasonableness” test is applied to establish this.

Note - Please be aware that these guidelines are different from local council School Transport Policies, which are used to determine if pupils are entitled to free travel. Entitlement to free travel will not be affected by the changes to the guidelines.

Given ongoing pressure to reduce local authority budgets, the Combined Authority must ensure that limited taxpayer investment is targeted where it is most needed. As a result, we are planning to revise the guidelines on the provision of subsidised school bus services from 1 July 2019 and are seeking the views of service users and other interested parties before doing so. The new guidelines would come into effect at the start of the new school year – 1 September 2019.

A copy of the proposed new guidelines can be found here.

The main proposed changes to the guidelines are:

  • Distance from school – Subsidised school bus services will not normally be provided where pupils are attending a school that is more than four miles (6.5 km) from their home address. It will be assumed in these cases that this is a matter of parental preference. We have developed an online map, which shows the area around schools that would normally be served.It is expected that pupils living outside this area would be provided transport on a commercial basis (see below) or would have longer public transport journeys. Discretion will be applied where schools are located in rural or semi-rural areas or where services serve rural or semi-rural communities.
  • Requests to serve new areas - Subsidised school bus services will not normally be introduced where currently no public transport link exists. As information on school services is publicly available, it will be assumed that parents have chosen a school in the knowledge that there is no direct public transport link and already have alternative transport arrangements in place.
  • Walking or cycling to school – Subsidised school bus services will not normally be provided for pupils who live less than 1.5 miles (2.4km) (30 minute walk) from their school. Pupils who live within this distance may be expected to walk or cycle to and from school. The online schools map also provides an indication of acceptable walking distances for each school.
  • Commercial school bus services – Subsidised school bus services may be withdrawn where commercial bus operators are willing to provide a service on the basis that parents meet the whole cost of the service (typically £500-£700 per child per year). It is expected that this would only apply to current services that fall outside of the new criteria.
  • Selective schools – Subsidised school bus services will not normally be provided where the school admissions policy is based on academic selection. It is expected that these would be replaced by commercial services as described above.
  • Post-16 – Subsidised school bus services will not normally be provided for young people in the 16-18 age group. In practice, many students in this age group do not travel at fixed times to and from school, and are usually confident public transport users.

Please note that, in applying the new guidelines, the Combined Authority would take all aspects affecting the journey from home to school into account.

A list of existing services that would be reviewed under the new guidelines can be downloaded here.

Please note that local councils fund some schools’ services because they meet (or were first introduced to meet) the needs of pupils who qualify for free travel under the local councils’ policies. A list of these of these services can be downloaded here. Unless local council funding is withdrawn, these services would not be affected without prior agreement with the relevant local council.

If you would like to comment on the changes to the guidelines, please complete the questionnaire using the link below before 15 March 2019.

Depending on the feedback received, the guidelines may be revised, subject the availability of funding. Any new guidelines (reflecting feedback received) will come into effect from 1 July 2019, with the new services running from 1 September 2019.

Get in touch:

You can get in touch using the following methods:

  • Email us at yourvoice@westyorks-ca.gov.uk
  • Ask us a question using the Q & A tool below (closing date 15 March)
  • Write to us at: FREEPOST Consultation Team (WYCA)

You can also use the tools on the right hand side to sign up to our mailing list to be kept informed about the development of this project using the box or register to be added to the Your Voice community where you will receive information on opportunities to have your say on a variety of projects.

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

Do you have any questions for us? Ask them here!

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    Why are these bus services being cancelled?

    Why Cancel Bus? asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your query. It is not clear from your question, which services you are referring to. If you could provide this information, I would be happy to let you know whether or not they are likely to be affected by the change to the guidelines. 

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    Guidelines for the provision of secondary school bus services Where can i find the original guidelines please? I have searched the schools section of the website but can't see them there. Are they available for public viewing?

    SKT asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your query. Unfortunately this Q&A tool does not allow me to attach a document within this response. However, if you email your request to yourvoice@westyorks-ca.gov.uk and we will be happy to provide you with a copy of the guidelines. 

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    I am confused as to why the buses are being removed. I catch the 611, a double decker that is filled with students everyday. There is another bus that comes to Hemsworth, but does not cover Fitzwilliam. Also the W7 (bus stated above) is only a single decker, so it would be extremely cramped, and comes very early compared to the 611. Questions: Will the W7 stop coming to Hemsworth? Will people who catch the 611 in Fitzwilliam have to find another way to get to school? What will people do when there isn't enough room on the bus, and they aren't allowed on?

    Why Cancel Bus? asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your email. Given the rural and semirural nature of the communities that these serve and the location of St Wilfrid’s School, it is expected that services to this school from the Wakefield area will not be affected.

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    Hi Please can you explain what changes are proposed for the school bus service from Clifton to Brighouse High school- eg will there be no service/ will it be more expensive etc etc? I can not understand what the proposals are- even though I have read it a few times, so I can not complete the survey or object to the proposals unless they are made clear. I am sure other parents must have the same problem! Thank you

    JZ asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your email. This service is within the new guidelines and it is not expected that there will be any change.   

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    Any withdrawal of these services will have a detrimental effect on my son’s Catholic education at St Wilfrids school, north featherstone, limiting our choice. You expect young people to walk quite a distance for a bus, especially in there dark winter months ?

    Kerry asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your comment. Given the rural and semirural nature of the communities that these serve and the location of St Wilfrid’s School, it is expected that services to this school from the Wakefield area will not be affected.   

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    My child travels from Birstall to St John Fishers Dewsbury on JF1. We pay for the cost of this travel. Birstall is not noted as a place on the map. Will the bus still run from Birstall to St John Fisher?

    Rachel Jowett asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your email. Service JF1 is a commercial service (not contracted or directly subsidised by the Combined Authority) operated by Arriva. It would only be affected by the guidelines if  Arriva decided to cancel the service.

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    I can't use this site successfully. I have tried 5 times and don't understand if Beckfoot school Bingley is included in proposed changes. I have been sent an email from school so assumed it was

    Mum asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your email. Services to Beckfoot school meet the new criteria and so will not be affected. 

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    Why is the Bingley Grammar School bus not included for review? This is blatant discrimination. Why do some children risk losing their bus whilst others keep theirs regardless?

    Melanie Jones asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for email. Services to Bingley Grammar School are funded by Bradford Council. This is because they were originally introduced to accommodate children who qualified for free travel. They would be reviewed under the new guidelines if Bradford Council withdrew funding or asked the Combined Authority to  apply the guidelines to council funded services.

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    Please can you confirm if the K80 service from King James's School will remain the same.

    V Bottomley asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your comment. The proposed change to the guidelines will not affect the operation of Service K80. 

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    From Martyn Tinsley questions below - his points were not answered; Please can you clarify? Q1. Are West Yorkshire Combined Authority therefore committing to only withdraw the current services IF a guaranteed commercial service is introduced to replace it? Q2. Secondly, we live outside the 4 mile boundary (Ripponden currently served by the M6 bus) and so can you also confirm that the replacement commercial service would also serve this full distance? Q3. If the problem you are facing is budget cuts, why are you not proposing to continue running the services, but without subsidising them? i.e. increasing costs to allow a 'break-even' service, instead of causing all of this uncertainty and worry for parents and pupils? Please can you now answer each question as many people share the same valid concerns.

    howard asked over 1 year ago

    To clarify our position, the Combined Authority is not planning to withdraw any services. If the guidelines are approved, the most likely outcome is that services would continue on the basis that parents collectively meet the cost of services. The Combined Authority would manage the process to ensure that service standards are maintained and that charges are the minimum required to cover the cost. If an operator is willing to provide a service on a commercial basis, we would have to be satisfied that the arrangements are acceptable in terms of service guarantees and ticket prices.