School transport faqs

Do pupils need to carry their pass every day?

It is important that all pupils carry their pass and be ready to show it to the driver each time the vehicle is boarded. Passes should be kept safe and in good condition. Lost/damaged passes should be replaced immediately. The charge for a replacement bus pass is £15.

When will I receive the travel pass?

A travel pass for September will be sent to your home address during July and August. If you apply part way through the academic year and your child is eligible, the Transport Commissioning service will aim to issue a pass within 14 days.

When and for what journeys can the travel pass be used?

Unless otherwise stated, passes are valid for a return journey to/from school/college, Monday to Friday only. Please refer to the information on the reverse side of the travel pass for more conditions of use. The misuse and/or fraudulent use of a travel pass is treated seriously and can result in transport being withdrawn. Any of the following may lead to confiscation:

  • use by anyone other than the named pass holder
  • attempted use for unauthorised journeys
  • using a damaged or defaced travel pass
  • confiscated passes must be replaced immediately, for which there is a charge of £15

What happens if the travel pass is lost or damaged?

Lost or damaged travel passes must be replaced as soon as possible, for which there is a charge of £15 Payment can be made with a debit or credit card online. Please have the student reference number ready as this will be asked for.

Once a ticket has been replaced the original becomes invalid and cannot be used for travel. Pupils travelling on commercial bus or rail services will be expected to pay their fare until a replacement pass is received and no refunds will be paid for any expenses incurred.

Will my child need a photo card?

Pupils who travel to and from school by rail, must also carry a valid photo card. If your child is allocated to a rail service, we will contact you to request a passport sized photograph. If your child already has a photo card, please retain it for use as photo cards are not renewed each year. If you lose your photo card, there is a charge of £15 to replace it and you may also need to supply a new photograph.

Can I claim a refund of fares if the pass arrives late?

It may be possible to claim a refund if your completed application has taken longer than 14 days to process, please contact us using our enquiry form. The following conditions apply:

  • no refunds will be paid for applications processed within 14 days
  • only the cheapest fare available at the time of travel (e.g. return fares/child fares) will be refunded
  • tickets must be retained and attached to your refund claim form
  • no refunds will be paid for pupils who have their tickets confiscated due to misuse/damage
  • retrospective payments for a previous academic year will not be paid

Will my child have the same travel arrangements every year?

We cannot guarantee you will receive the same travel arrangements each year. Throughout the year, and particularly at the start of each new school year, new children start and others leave causing the demand for your child’s route to school to change. Where this is the case, we may need to make adjustments to your child’s travel arrangements such as a different driver, escort, vehicle or timings etc. We will always give you as much notice as possible of any of these changes. If your child is getting a new driver we will offer you/your child a Meet and Greet session in advance of the new travel arrangement starting.

How is poor behaviour managed on school buses?

Any bad behaviour or rule-breaking on the journey to and from school will be treated seriously and could result in your child being temporarily or permanently banned from travelling. Smoking is illegal in public places and this includes all school bus, local bus and rail services. Any pupils found to be smoking will receive an immediate transport ban.

Who can I contact if there are problems or I have a complaint?

The Transport Commissioning service is committed to providing a high level of service. However, there may be times when you/your child experience problems with the bus or rail service allocated. In the event of a problem arising or if you have any concerns, you can report them to us by completing our general enquiry form. We will then investigate the problem and take appropriate action.

If you have a complaint or are dissatisfied in the way you have been treated by a member of staff, please write directly to the Director of Education and Inclusion, Cheshire West and Chester Council, The Portal, Wellington Road, Ellesmere Port, CH65 0BA. Any complaints will be investigated and a response will be sent to you within five working days.

What happens if we change our address or move to a different school?

A change of address or school must be reported so that we can reassess your details and update our records. Please contact us by completing our general enquiry form.

What if I need to cancel my child's transport?

If your child is unable to attend school or transport is no longer required you will need to contact the transport commissioning team as soon as possible and contact the transport provider.

Can my child eat and drink on school transport?

No. Eating and drinking is not permitted on vehicles. If your child has a medical condition which means they must eat regularly you must notify the SEN team/medical needs team of this in advance of the journey.

Can my child take equipment on the school transport?

Additional equipment and bags will only be permitted if:

  • there is enough room on the vehicle
  • they can be stored safely and securely
  • it does not incur any additional cost
  • it does not inconvenience other passengers

Other options should be considered, for example is the equipment available at school?

What if my child needs to take medication to school?

Medication should be stored in a sealed container and placed inside your child's school bag.

Whose responsibility is it to get my child to school?

It is the responsibility of the parent/carer to ensure that their children get to and from school at the appropriate time each day. Travel arrangements are an important consideration when parent/carers are making preferences. You should think about how practical it is to choose a school which is not within walking distance, unless it is designated as your nearest qualifying school. It is your responsibility as a parent/carer, to ensure home to school travel arrangements are in place.

What is defined as a 'nearest qualifying' school?

A nearest qualifying school is taken to mean a school with places available that provides education appropriate to the age, ability and aptitude of the child, and any SEN that the child may have.

From September 2015, for new applicants, travel assistance will only be offered to pupils attending their nearest qualifying school subject to meeting the eligibility criteria mentioned above. Please note the nearest qualifying school with places available may not necessarily be the catchment school for your home address. For pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) the nearest qualifying school is taken to mean the school deemed most appropriate by the local authority to meet the pupil's needs.

What else do you consider when looking at eligibility?

At the point when transport eligibility is considered, the prospect of being able to secure a place in an alternative (usually nearer) school must be a real one. For most cases this will be during the normal school admissions round when places are being finally allocated by the admissions team. The transport team will liaise with the admissions team at this point in order to determine availability of places and the prospect of being offered a place.

Is any consideration given to members of the armed forces and their families for school transport eligibility? 

The new Armed Forces Covenant Duty came into force on 22 November 2022. From this date, public bodies affected will be legally obliged to have due regard to the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant when exercising specific functions. The covenant sets out to ensure that members of the armed forces, and their families, are not disadvantaged as a result of their service, for example by the frequent house moves associated with an armed forces career. Where a child is not automatically entitled to free home to school transport, families can ask for their circumstances to be considered as part of the published appeals process.

Where we are asked to consider discretionary travel assistance, the reviewing officer or Panel must consider the implication of the armed forces’ covenant, and the link between the discontinuation of transport and whether service in the armed forces has caused disadvantage.

How do you measure the route to the nearest qualifying school?

The measurement of the statutory walking distance is not necessarily the shortest distance by road. It is measured by the shortest available route along which a child, accompanied as necessary, may walk safely. As such, the route measured will include footpaths, bridleways, and other pathways, in addition to recognised roads. Please note private driveways are excluded from the measurement.

The Transport Commissioning service uses a bespoke mapping system which identifies the shortest available route. The system takes into account routes that have been classified as hazardous routes and would therefore not expect any accompanied child/young person to walk along a route which has been deemed unsuitable on safety grounds.

The two mile limit for extended rights, mentioned above, is measured in the same way as the statutory walking distances. However, the six mile upper limit and the 15 mile upper limit to a qualifying school preferred on grounds of religion or belief are measured along routes that are passable using a suitable motorised vehicle. In short, the upper limits are measured along road routes.

The council will promote good practice by reviewing routes, and where identified, put in place suitable new paths, pedestrian crossings and cycle lanes in order to improve safety and increase choice for pupils to walk.

Is catchment still a priority for gaining a school place?

Yes for school admissions purposes but not for travel assistance eligibility purposes. The admissions policy and transport policy are prescribed and administered through two different laws.

As required by the School Admissions Code 2012 "the Code" we make arrangements for parents and carers to express their preference for the school where they wish their child to be educated when applying for a school place. Parents may express a preference for any state funded school. As required by the Code the admission authority for a school must set out in their arrangements the criteria against which places will be allocated at the school when there are more applications than places. The Code sets out a list of acceptable oversubscription criteria and 'living in the catchment area' is included in the list.

School/college transport for children/young people is provided by the council either on a mandatory or a discretionary basis under the Education Act 1996 and the Education and Inspections Act 2006. S508 B of The Education Act sets out the duty placed on councils to make such school travel arrangements as they consider necessary for an 'eligible child' who is attending the nearest qualifying school. The nearest qualifying school may not be the catchment school. It was agreed in 2014 that for any new applicants from September 2015 we would only provide travel assistance to those pupils attending their nearest qualifying school ie travel assistance will not be provided to the catchment school if there is a nearer qualifying school to the home address.

How can I speak to someone about Statement of Special Educational Needs' Transport?

We advise that to do this you contact the SEN transport team using our SEN general enquiry form.

What if my child loses something on the school bus?

If your child loses something whilst they are on the school bus we suggest that you contact the bus provider as soon as possible as they will be able to help.

How can I request a DBS check to begin the process of becoming a passenger assistant?

To book a DBS appointment to begin the process of becoming a passenger assistant please use our form. Appointments are offered at Wyvern House Winsford every Tuesday, and The Forum office Chester every Wednesday. Payment is taken during the interview and you need to complete and return the form emailed over to you during this booking process. Please note that you must be at least 16 years old to request a disclosure and barring service check and this service is not for taxi drivers.

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