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Spare seats scheme

We are now offering spare seats on our contracted services where available.

You can register an interest in purchasing a spare seat from us by emailing schooltransport@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk. We will then add you to our waiting list.

Spare seats are a space on a school vehicle (operated by or on behalf of us) that has not been allocated to an eligible pupil. A spare seat will only be offered where there are no public services on which your child could pay a daily fare on.

Allocation of spare seats

If you have contacted us expressing an interest in purchasing a spare seat you will be added to a waiting list. If a spare seat becomes available, we will contact you and explain what you need to do next. 

When allocating a seat, we prioritise the following way:

  • current spare seat holders
  • pupils living in our area
  • pupils living outside the authority

Please note that spare seats are not always available from the start of the academic year and parent/carers should expect to make their own arrangements. Spare seats are only offered where it is likely that they will not be required for a pupil eligible for free travel assistance and this is not always clear until a couple of weeks into the academic year (particularly where there have been late school applications).

It is the parents/guardians responsibility to ensure that children are able to get to school, and parents should not expect that a spare seat will be available for the whole time their child is at their chosen school.

Please be advised that where we are able to sell spare seats, this does not guarantee a seat for the whole year. The usual terms and conditions of the scheme will still apply, i.e. if the seat is no longer available it can be withdrawn at short notice. It is essential for parent/carers to have considered alternative arrangements should a vacant seat not be available.

Cost

There is an annual charge for a spare seat of £880 per academic year, per child. Payments are requested in advance and can be made annually, termly or half termly.

 Annual charge (due Sept) - £880  Term payment  Half term payment
 Term one (Sept-Dec)  £330  £165 (x2)
 Term two (Jan-April)  £330  £165 (x2)
 Term three (April-July)  £220  £110 (x2)

Special educational needs (SEN) and/or disability needs

A spare seat may be offered on an education contract vehicle where there is the capacity.

If your child is of primary or secondary school age and can show that you are in financial difficulty. You may be able to pay a reduced charge of £440 (per year). You will need to provide detailed information about your monthly income and outgoings. This will then be considered by the benefits team.

 

Our ability to sell seats on a school bus is determined by the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR) which are set in law. Although the PSVAR have been set in law for some time, as with a lot of legislation, legal opinion on how it applies can change over time. We became aware that the commonly applied interpretation, by most local authorities up and down the country, of these regulations was potentially open to challenge in light of changing legal opinion.

In response to this, we have looked at options available regarding the sale of spare seats. As a result of this, we are able to offer spare seats where we are able to comply with the legislation.

A public service vehicle is any vehicle that can carry nine or more passengers. These regulations state that vehicles with more than 22 seats must meet strict accessibility criteria, including provision of wheelchair access, if any seats are being sold separately. Previously we offered to sell spare seats on any school transport where they were available.

The government has provided exemptions for a short period in some cases to allow spare seats to be sold.  This allows us to sell spare seats where they are available this academic year.

 

The spare seat scheme is available for parents/ carers to apply for spare seats for their children where they are not entitled to school transport.

The scheme works by selling seats on existing school routes where there are spare seats on a contracted vehicle. Contracts are awarded following a competitive tender process to the operator who offers the best option and value for money, these contracts are regularly reviewed to ensure they are cost effective. To replace routes with smaller vehicles would increase the cost of existing contracts. We have no statutory requirement to offer a spare seat scheme and would therefore be unable to fund any additional costs for services.

 

Wherever possible, if a seat is available near to your home address, we will look to see if it is able to be offered.

Where this is not possible (e.g. due to a full/nearly full bus), the next nearest vehicle will be offered in case this is of assistance.  

 

In some cases, yes. Current government guidance is that social distancing is not required on home to school transport given that the same consistent group of pupils are transported. However, individual transport operator risk assessments may mean that not all seats on each bus are made available for use (for example, in some cases the first row of seats are ‘out of use’).  

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