Axe hangs over Calderdale school bus services under new plans

Calderdale School bus service
Calderdale School bus service

The future of school bus services in Calderdale hang in the balance under new plans being considered by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

The 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.

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The organisation uses a set of guidelines, 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.

However, the authority has said given ongoing pressure to reduce local authority budgets, the WYCA must ensure that limited taxpayer investment is targeted where it is most needed.

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As a result, it is planning to revise the guidelines on the provision of subsidised school bus services from July 1, 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 September 1, 2019.

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(External link), 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(External link) 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.

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 in Calderdale that would be reviewed under the new guidelines are as follows:

Abbey Park P30

Brighouse C47 C48 C50

Brooksbank C34 C36 C40 S41

Calder High C83 C85 C86 C87 C88 C89 C91 C92 C97

Cornholme P95

Crossley Heath C5 C6

Lightcliffe C50

North Halifax C25 C26 M1 M2 M3 M4 M5 M6 M8 M9 M22 M23 #

Park Lane C1 C2 C3

Rastrick C35

St Joseph's (Brighouse) P5

St Mary's C30

Todmorden C94 C95

Trinity Sowerby Bridge SB2 SB3 SB4 SB5 SB7 SB8

Various Calderdale Primary P86 P87 P94 P95

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.

To have your say on the changes click on the link here by March 15. This is for parents and pupils only.