North Yorkshire Council has reportedly considered limiting the number of children eligible for free school transport, which could save the local authority £3m in operating costs.
School transport is the third largest expenditure for the council, costing £42m annually.
Transport is available from the start of the reception year, where the walking distance is two miles for children under eight and three miles for children of eight years or older.
The authority is considering only offering free transport to a child’s nearest school rather than any suitable school in their catchment area. Public consultation on the policy will commence on 5 February if approved.
Yorkshire Councils are estimates to have endured cuts of £945m since 2015, with the region’s 13 major authorities now facing a combined overspend of nearly £193m in 2023-24.
An officer’s report to the council stated the changes could have a “disproportionate impact on rural communities”, as the prevalence of school transport services to rural schools is higher due to home to school travel distances being “inherently longer”.
The report continued: “Any proposal which reduces eligibility could result in increased use of parental cars dependent on the response and future behaviours of parents.
“However, the potential focus of eligibility on the grounds of being driven to the nearest school only, could reduce the numbers of commissioned transport services over time and would reduce the travel distances for those services.”
Achievements and innovations in transport planning will be celebrated at the third annual CiTTi Awards, which will be held on 26 November 2024 at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in London. Nominations officially open in March 2024. Please visit www.cittiawards.co.uk to learn more about this unmissable event for the UK’s transportation sector.