Uncertain future remains over Calderdale's school bus services

School bus services in Calderdale are still under review
School bus services in Calderdale are still under review

The future of Calderdale's school bus services remain uncertain as members of the region's authority prepare for crunch talks.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee will be asked to agree new criteria for how the county’s school bus services are organised at a meeting on Friday.

However, following feedback received from parents and schools during a recent seven-week consultation, the changes will only be used as a guideline basis.

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All services will be considered case by case, to ensure they are providing the right service and deliver value for money with West Yorkshire’s Council Tax payers.

Each year, the Combined Authority spends around £3 million funding daily bus travel to and from school for around 25,000 West Yorkshire pupils and students.

Facing changes to young people’s travel habits and ongoing pressure to reduce local authority budgets, the Authority reviewed its criteria for funding services. It then undertook a seven -week public consultation on some proposals.

The proposed changes focused on pupils’ distance from school, requests to serve new areas, students’ potential to walk or cycle to school and selective schools. Other areas considered were schools where commercial bus operators are willing to provide a service and services for over-16s, who are usually confident and independent public transport users and who don’t necessarily travel to and from school at fixed times.

Councillor Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee said: “Providing home-to-school travel for around 25,000 pupils each day of the school year is a major area of expenditure for the Combined Authority and the existing guidelines have been in place for almost five years so it was time to review them.

“It is important to ensure we are organising the right kinds of services where they are needed most and that those services represent good value for money for local Council Tax payers.

“I think we have come up with an appropriate set of updated criteria which, having listened to what people had to say on our proposals, will address their concerns.

“Particularly as we remain committed to organising services and considering applications on a case-by-case basis taking into account people’s individual circumstances.”

If agreed at next week’s meeting, the new guidelines will come into effect for the start of the new school year in September 2019.