School transport

School transport travel updates

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The school transport service we provide

We provide free home to school transport for children in Surrey meeting our eligibility criteria. For other children, we may be able to offer alternative help, for example concessionary seats. For students aged 16+ we offer discounted bus and rail travel tickets.

Eligibility - Under 16 transport to school

Children aged 4 to 16 are eligible for free home to school travel support if they live in Surrey and:

  • they attend their nearest qualifying school which is more than two miles from their home (for children under 8) or three miles from their home (for children over 8) measured by the shortest walking route (accompanied by an adult as necessary)
  • they are aged between 8 and 11 and are entitled to free school meals, or their families are in receipt of the maximum amount of Working Tax Credit, if the shortest walking route (accompanied by an adult as necessary) between their home and the nearest qualifying school is more than two miles or
  • they are aged 11 and over and are entitled to free school meals or their families receive the maximum Working Tax Credit. These children will qualify for help with travel to one of their three nearest qualifying schools where they live between two miles (measured by the shortest walking route) and six miles (measured by the shortest road route) from the school or
  • they are aged 11 and over and are entitled to free school meals or their families receive the maximum Working Tax Credit and they attend a school based on religion or belief which is more than two miles (measured by the shortest walking route) and not more than 15 miles (measured by the shortest road route) from the home address.

Eligibility to free transport is not linked to the admission criteria of a school. For example, some junior and secondary schools may give priority for a school place to children who are attending a feeder school but this does not confer an automatic right to free transport.

The home to school transport policy

Our transport policies for 2014 (PDF) and 2015 (PDF) explain our eligibility criteria in more detail.

Assessing eligibility

When assessing applications for free home to school transport for pupils under 16 we also take into account these things:

  • If, when you applied for a school place you could have applied for a nearer school which had vacancies, but chose not to, your child would not usually be eligible for free transport.
  • If you apply for a school place at a school that is not your nearest, you will be eligible for free transport only if any nearer schools are oversubscribed and you would not have been offered a place. Exceptions may apply when your nearest school is out of county and your child attends their nearest Surrey school.
  • If a different school is the nearest school with an available place at the time of allocation, when measuring by straight line distance as opposed to shortest walking route, free transport will be provided to either school as long as the age and distance criteria are met.
  • If you are moving into the area, your nearest school will depend on the availability of school places at the time of your application.
  • You should be aware that if your child is granted transport to a school further away due to the lack of places at nearer schools, it will not necessarily follow that your younger children will also get transport to attend that school. This is because places may then be available at nearer schools for your younger children.
  • If your child is transferring to the junior stage of education, your nearest school with places may not necessarily be a junior school. You should also check any nearer all-through primary schools that normally admit children into year 3.
  • When considering nearest schools, schools both inside and outside the county boundary will be taken in to account.
  • We will consider the safety of the walking route when assessing transport eligibility.

Our home to school transport frequently asked questions

These will answer commonly asked questions.

Apply now

For children of compulsory school age (4-16) our Admissions and Transport team automatically assesses home to school transport for each child after the initial allocation of school places. If your child is entitled you will hear from us by 1 July in the year of admission. You should not complete an application form before that date as this can cause unnecessary delay to the assessment process.

If you wish to apply for free transport based on your eligibility for free school meals or the maximum Working Tax Credit you will have to complete an application. If you are successful you will be required to renew your application every year.

In order to be considered for home to school transport needed as a result of any school allocation from July onwards and for all in year admissions a parent has to complete an application form.

If you think your child may be entitled and you haven't heard from us by 4 July, please contact us. 

If your child is not eligible for free transport it is your responsibility as a parent to get your child to and from school. You should consider this factor when choosing a school to apply for.

Our Transport Co-ordination Centre will allocate the type of transport (bus, coach, train, minibus/taxi or petrol allowance).

Our concessionary seat scheme

Spare seats on contract coaches and taxis are hired out to pupils or students not entitled to a free seat, once all the pupils entitled to a seat have been allocated theirs. They can be withdrawn (and a refund given) if the seat is later needed for a pupil entitled to a free seat. Our application letter (PDF) explains more.

If your child is not eligible for free transport, you can apply for a concessionary seat by completing an application form (PDF). If you apply for a concessionary seat, you will need to apply by July to be considered for a seat from September. We do not consider applications for concessionary seats in minibuses/taxis until the October half term.

Free bus travel for children under 16 on Transport for London (London Buses) Zip scheme

Under 16s travel free on London Buses (Transport for London), including those crossing into Surrey. These include the K3, S1, 116, 117, 166, 203, 216, 235, 290, 293, 403, 404, 405, 406, 407, 411, 418, 434, 464, 465, 466, 467 and 470.Passengers aged 11-15 must carry an Under 16 Oyster Photo Card and if they cannot produce one, they will be charged the standard adult cash fare. For more details visit Transport for London for details.

Eligibility - Post 16 transport to school

If your child is of sixth form age (16 – 19 years) and lives in Surrey, our Student Fare Card will entitle them to reduced rate bus and/or rail travel to school sixth forms and colleges.

Additional support

We may be able to provide additional support for some students, depending on their circumstances. Our home to school/college transport policy for Surrey students of sixth form age (PDF) explains the criteria for this additional support.

  • This policy sets out the support that might be available to students:
  • who are in receipt of the 16 to 19 guaranteed bursary.
  • whose families are in receipt of the maximum Working Tax Credit or who meet the eligibility criteria for Free School Meals.
  • who are unable to use the Student Fare Card because their sixth form or college is not on a public transport route for which the Student Fare Card applies or if they cannot reasonably access such a route from their home address.
  • who have a disability and/or have learning difficulties and/or who are medically ill and who will incur extra transport costs to travel to school/college as a result of that disability or condition.

More details of the eligibility criteria that apply and the assistance available are set out in the policy.

You may also want to contact your child's college or sixth form for details of bursary schemes, which they may have to help with expenses.

Apply now

For children of sixth form age (16 – 19 years) living in Surrey and attending college, apply for our Student Fare Card, entitling them to reduced rate bus and/or rail travel to school sixth forms and colleges.

We may be able to provide additional support for some students, depending on their circumstances. Our Home to School/College Transport Policy for Surrey students of sixth form age (PDF) explains the criteria and you can use it to apply for additional support.

Our concessionary seat scheme

Spare seats on contract coaches and taxis are hired out to pupils or students not entitled to a free seat, once all the pupils entitled to a seat have been allocated theirs. They can be withdrawn (and a refund given) if the seat is later needed for a pupil entitled to a free seat. Our application letter (PDF) explains more.

If your child is not eligible for free transport, you can apply for a concessionary seat by completing an application form (PDF). If you apply for a concessionary seat, you will need to apply by July to be considered for a seat from September. We do not consider applications for concessionary seats in minibuses/taxis until the October half term.

Our bus student fare card

This allows 16-18 year old Surrey students in full-time education to travel on Surrey buses for the under 16s fare. The card costs £25; it runs from the date of issue until the end of August the following year (eg; 1 September 2014 to 31 August 2015) and is valid for home to school/college journeys that start and/or end within Surrey, only. If you also need to travel by train to complete your journey you can also apply for our train student fare card.

To qualify you must:

  • live in one of the 11 boroughs and districts making up Surrey and
  • be aged between 16 and 18 (under 19 on 1 September 2014).

Apply online for a bus student fare card and allow 15 working days before collecting from your school/college.

The following companies accept the bus student fare card and charge the under-16s fare for journeys starting and finishing in Surrey:

  • Abellio Surrey
  • Arriva (service Surrey and West Sussex)
  • First
  • London General
  • Metrobus
  • Quality Line
  • Safeguard
  • Southdown
  • Stagecoach

Our train student fare card

This allows 16-18 year old Surrey students in full-time education to buy a season ticket to travel home to school/college journeys only at a discounted cost of one-third the full adult rate. Season tickets are available for 7 days (minimum), one month and between one month and one year. The card costs £25 and runs from the date of issue until the end of August the following year (eg; 1 September 2014 to 31 August 2015). It is only valid for home to school/college journeys that start and/or end at one of the 83 stations within Surrey, listed in bold on our qualifying stations list. If you also need to travel by bus to complete your journey you can also apply for our bus student fare card.

To qualify you must:

  • Live in one of the 11 boroughs and districts making up Surrey and
  • be aged between 16 and 18 (under 19 on 1 September 2014)

Apply online for a train student fare card and allow 15 working days before collecting from your school/college.

Please read the conditions of use for your student fare card.

Transport for London 16+ student Oyster photocard

Concessions are available to students aged 16+ on Transport for London services. For more details and to apply visit Transport for London.

Transport for children with special educational needs or disability

For details visit the transport for a child with SEND section of our web site.

Transport case review

You can complete a transport case review form (PDF) if your child has been refused transport
assistance under Surrey County Council's Transport Policy, and you either believe:

  • that you have exceptional circumstances which will affect your child's journey to school
  • that the initial transport assessment was incorrect
  • that the route is unsafe.

Any transport that has been agreed on the basis of an unsafe route will be withdrawn if measures are subsequently introduced to make the route safe.

Bus and train student fare cards – conditions of use

  • A student fare card will only be issued to a student aged 16 but under 19 (on 1 September in the year of application), who is resident in the administrative county of Surrey and attending a full time education course on the date of issue.
  • The student fare card is not transferable and can only be used by the person to whom it is issued, bearing a true likeness of the holder. It remains the property of Surrey County Council and must be surrendered if the person stops attending a full time education course.
  • On presentation of a valid student fare card the holder is entitled to travel to and from school or college, at the same fare as someone under 16 on the buses. Students can purchase a season ticket to travel home to school/college journeys at a discounted cost of one-third the full adult rate on the trains. The card can only be accepted for the home to school/college journey printed on the front, which starts and/or finishes in the administrative county of Surrey. A student can choose any Surrey operator for this journey. On presentation of a valid bus student fare card on routes run by some bus companies, the holder is entitled to travel at the under 16 rate for any journey which starts and/or finishes in the administrative county of Surrey, including evenings, weekends and school/college holidays. Please check with the bus operators for details.
  • Possession of a student fare card does not infer any rights upon the holder, other than those of a fare-paying customer, and is subject to the operator's conditions of carriage.
  • Refunds will not be considered for any reason.
  • A student fare card is not valid if altered or defaced in any way.
  • Purchase of a student fare card is deemed as acceptance of these conditions.
  • Any breach of these conditions or the regulations and conditions of the bus or train operator will render the holder liable to prosecution and result in the withdrawal of the student fare card.
  • Surrey train student fare cards, and tickets issued in conjunction with it, are subject to the National Rail conditions of carriage.
  • For train travel, a season ticket must be purchased (minimum seven days). Daily single and return tickets are only available after 6pm and at weekends for leisure journeys. These cannot be used for travel to/from school/college.

Train student fare card qualifying stations

For your journey to qualify for a reduced fare using your train student fare card, you must start, finish and transfer via stations on this list. Additionally, you must start and/or finish your journey at one of the stations in bold on the list. Your card is only valid for journeys on our map of railway lines (PDF).

Replacement free bus and train travel cards and reimbursements for school transport

Replacement bus, coach or rail cards for free travel

Bus/coach tickets: If you need to replace a stolen or lost bus/coach ticket please write to our Transport Co-ordination Centre, Surrey County Council, Room 365A, County Hall, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames,
KT1 2DY enclosing:

  • a cheque payable to Surrey County Council for the right fee (for those under 16, first duplicate = £5; second duplicate = £5; third/any more duplicates in an academic year = £10)
  • your child's name, date of birth, school attended, mode of transport and route.

Rail tickets

Please email our Transport Co-ordination Centre at: passenger.transport@surreycc.gov.uk to ask for a duplicate season ticket application form. Please complete this and return it with a cheque for £10, to cover the administration cost, payable to Surrey County Council. A replacement ticket will then be issued.

Reimbursements

In some circumstances parents of children who are eligible for home to school transport may claim for reimbursement of the cost for their child to travel to school. Our home to school transport policy for 4-16 year olds and our home to school/college transport policy for Surrey students of sixth form age (PDF) provides full details of the reimbursements we will fund.

Where the team agrees in writing to provide reimbursement, you will receive a claim form and details of what can be claimed. One claim form should be completed every term and returned with tickets purchased to our Transport Co-ordination Centre, Surrey County Council, Room 365A, County Hall, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames,
KT1 2DY.

Email the team on passenger.transport@surreycc.gov.uk for additional forms.

For over 16s, if our Admissions and Transport team agrees in writing to provide reimbursement, the appropriate claim form (either a bursary claim form or a 16-19 claim form) will be sent to you. It should be completed every term and returned with tickets purchased to our Transport Co-ordination Centre, Surrey County Council, Room 365A, County Hall, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames,
KT1 2DY. Payment is made less the student contribution we will advise you of. We cannot reimburse you for lost tickets/receipts.

Changing or replacing your student fare card

Change your choice of transport (bus to train or vice versa) 

If you want to change your choice of transport (from train to bus or bus to train) please return your original pass by post to the Student Fare Card Team,

Surrey County Council, Room 365, County Hall, Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2DN.

As well as sending in the original pass please provide us with these details for the cardholder:

  • new mode of transport
  • new journey details
  • school/college name
  • home address
  • contact details, including phone number.

 Once the original pass has been received the Student Fare Card Team will contact you to arrange online payment of the £10 administration fee payable.

To change your bus student fare card journey

If you want to change your bus journey please:

  • return your bus student fare card by post to the Student Fare Card Team, Surrey County Council, Room 365, County Hall, Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2DN.
  • log onto your student fare card account
  • chose the option to replace your card
  • pay the £10 administration charge online.

To change your train student fare card journey

If you want to change your train journey please:

  • return your bus student fare card by post to the Student Fare Card Team, Surrey County Council, Room 365, County Hall, Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2DN.
  • And provide us with the cardholder's:
    • new train journey details
    • school/college name
    • home address
    • contact details, including phone number.

 Once the original pass has been received the Student Fare Card Team will contact you to arrange online payment of the £10 administration fee payable.

To replace your lost/stolen bus student fare card

Please apply online:

  • log onto your student fare card account
  • chose the option to replace your card
  • pay the £10 administration charge online.

To replace your lost/stolen train student fare card

Please request an application form which will be emailed or sent to you within 5 working days. It can take up to 15 working days to process the completed form, once you have returned it to us. The Student Fare Card Team will contact you to arrange online payment of the £10 administration fee payable. Your new card is sent to your home address. Only one duplicate can be issued each academic year.

Your child travelling on school transport

Code of practice on school transport

We expect good behaviour from children when using the school transport we provide.

Children must:

  • keep their ticket/pass with them when travelling
  • keep their belongings with them and not obstruct the gangways or exits
  • take all litter away with them
  • refrain from excessive noise
  • remain in their seats until the vehicle has stopped when it is time to get off.

Children must not:

  • disturb the driver
  • smoke or drink
  • play music unless personal headphones are used
  • speak to or distract the driver except in an emergency or when the vehicle is stationary
  • trail scarves or other items from windows
  • throw anything from the vehicle

If a child is travelling by contract bus/coach, they must also:

  • be at the stop five minutes before pick up time
  • know what to do if the vehicle is late or does not arrive
  • queue sensibly and away from the road whilst waiting to get on
  • not rush or push and find a seat straight away
  • wear seat belts, where they are fitted
  • take all their belongings with them on leaving and do not try to return to the vehicle as the driver may be pulling away
  • remain seated at all times, unless otherwise instructed by the driver
  • allow the vehicle to move away before attempting to cross the road and use the pedestrian crossing if there is one
  • follow the driver's or escort's instructions if the vehicle breaks down or is involved in an accident.

If the child is young or the pick up point is on a particularly busy road, we advise parents to take their child to the bus/coach stop and meet them there again at the end of the school day. If parents do this, they should:

  • take and meet their child from the same side of the road as the bus/coach stops
  • inform the escort in the morning, (where there is one) if their child is not returning home on that vehicle.

Withdrawing transport because of bad behaviour 

If your child persistently misbehaves on a school bus we can withdraw the transport we provide. We would also support a headteacher's decision to withdraw transport provision for disciplinary reasons linked to use of that transport. If we ban your child, we will write to tell you. If it is the headteacher's decision, they will advise you how long your child is banned from travelling on the bus for. It will be your responsibility for ensuring your child gets to and from school during that time. At the end of that period there must be assurances of improved behaviour if your child is to be allowed to travel on the vehicle again.

Email our contact centre contact.centre@surreycc.ov.uk, or call on 0300 200 1004 for advice.

Accidents and emergencies  - information for parents

If there is a minor incident on school transport our Transport Co-ordination centre will be advised. The centre will advise your child's school which will contact you.

If your child is involved in a major incident your child's school is responsible for:

  • contacting you
  • making arrangements for children who are brought into school from the incident
  • ensuring with us (or any other local education authority involved) and the emergency services that all children on the service are accounted for.Our Contact Centre will also handle calls from parents not able to contact their children's school(s).

Escorts – information for parents

On some of the school transport we provide there will be an escort responsible for:

  • the safety and care of the children in the vehicle
  • ensuring all children delivered to school on the morning journey are accounted for on the homeward journey
  • ensuring that only entitled children travel on the vehicle and
  • ensuring that in the event of problems during the journey, they stay with the children.

Escorts are provided for pupils with special educational needs or disability (SEND) where their case officer has identified the need. An escort is also provided with SEND pupils under 5.

The escorts' wear Transport Co-ordination Centre (TCC) authorised ID badges issued by us.

Operational advice

If there is a major incident

If there is a major incident different organisations take on the following responsibilities:

  • Emergency Services – are responsible at the scene of the incident for all aspects.
  • Our Transport Co-ordination Centre (TCC) - is responsible for liaising with the emergency services and the relevant transport operator so that there is a central source of information about the incident. Operators must complete the TCC accident/incident report form.
  • The School - is responsible for contacting parents of children involved in the incident, making arrangements to deal with children brought into school from the incident, ensuring with the Local Education Authority and the emergency services that all children on the service are accounted for.
  • Our Contact centre – is responsible for dealing with telephone enquiries from parents unable to contact the relevant school.

Escorts – information for operators

If there is an escort on the school transport you provide, they must first be cleared through the TCC authorised accreditation scheme (pdf: 241KB) and must wear their TCC authorised ID badge when carrying out the role.

We expect escorts to:

  • be particularly vigilant when children leave the vehicle
  • take all reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of the children when entering or leaving the vehicle. They are not responsible for helping children before they board or after they have left the vehicle. If the vehicle arrives at the school early, children should be kept on the vehicle.
  • report all behaviour problems to the headteacher.
  • keep the child on the vehicle if they are not met and do not normally make their own way home and call the school/Pupil Services for further instructions, at the end of the route. If the Escort does not contact either, they should take the child to the nearest police station as soon as possible and report the situation.

Escorts should not:

  • leave the vehicle to collect children. The vehicle may wait three minutes only beyond the planned pick-up time.
  • allow children to be collected from or set down at unauthorised stops. The route must not be altered without prior permission from our Transport Co-ordination centre. The vehicle must keep to scheduled times. Any vehicles running early must wait until the scheduled time to continue to the next point.

Local bus services which serve schools

To find the local bus services serving your child's school use our A-Z of bus services. The list does not include coach and taxi services provided by Surrey County Council, as they are not available to the general public.

Here are the Contact details for bus operators in Surrey.

Use of minibuses - advice for schools and community groups

Driving licences


Managers, headteachers and responsible persons must ensure everyone reporting to them and required to drive, hold a valid driving licence, and that this is checked every six months and a record of the audit kept. Visit GOV.UK for minibus and trailer licensing regulations for UK nationals.

For EU residents, holders of valid licences issued by EU member states may drive in the UK until aged 70 or for 3 years after becoming resident whichever is the longer. Holders of Community licences with vocational entitlement (Categories C and D) must register their details with DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency).

Non-EU staff must have licences valid in their 'home' country and can drive in the UK for 12 months only. After then, to continue driving, they must take a UK Statutory Driving Test (within the 12 months) after first applying for a Provisional Licence. You should encourage drivers to exchange their licence for a UK licence as soon as possible as it is often difficult to interpret the classifications of licences from non-EU Countries. Staff in this category may only drive vehicles with eight seats or less.

All non-UK staff should receive additional vocational training to ensure that they are sufficiently skilled and experienced to drive in the UK.

Minibus driver assessment training

When we insure a minibus, all drivers of it must have had their driving skills formally assessed within the past four years. The national recognised driving standard is the Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme (MiDAS); after successfully completing it, a driver receives a certificate valid for four years. Several organisations provide this training. For advice contact:

  • Andy Taylor, Waverley Hoppa Community Transport by email: enquiries@hoppa.org.uk or by phoning 01428 681701
  • East Surrey Rural Transport. Email rtp@tandridge.gov.uk or call 01883 732760

Insurance

Always check the following with your insurer - that:

  • your organisation is listed on the Surrey County Council policy
  • the policy is current and has not lapsed
  • new replacements for older vehicles (now disposed of), have been registered
  • any minibus hire includes insurance – or if not you have made your own insurance arrangements
  • your driver(s) hold the right licence(s) to drive the vehicle(s)
  • your driver has enough experience to drive a particular vehicle
  • you know what limitations on the insurance there are if your driver(s) has penalty points.

Permits and vehicle excise licence

A vehicle must display a valid vehicle excise licence at all times.
For each minibus being used a section 19 minibus permit is required. Each one allows the legal operation of a minibus with more than eight passenger seats on a not-for-profit organisation.

Minibus maintenance

Pre-use: Before the minibus is used each day, it should be inspected to make sure all the obvious safety-critical items are in satisfactory and working order. A report book should record each inspection. Any repairs should be done before the vehicle is used.
Nil-defect reporting: there must be a system in place allowing drivers to formally report in writing any defect occurring with the vehicle on each journey. There must also be a system to ensure that these reports can be acted on.
Vehicle maintenance: your minibus must be regularly inspected and maintained by professional vehicle technicians. A planned maintenance schedule should be drawn up with a contractor.

GOV.UK has useful advice on maintaining vehicle roadworthiness.

Minibus road speed limiter fitment

Minibuses with more than eight seats will soon have to be fitted with speed limiters, which will restrict the vehicle's road speed to a maximum of 62 mph (100kph), although lower speed limits must still be adhered to. Contact your vehicle dealer for advice .To find your nearest approved speed limiter centre on GOV.UK.

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  • Updated: 12 Sep 2014
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