Transport for 5-16 year olds
Your child may be able to get free school travel if they meet at least one of the eligibility criteria detailed below.
Statutory walking distance
All children aged between 5 and 16*, Reception year to Year 11, qualify for free home to school travel if they attend their nearest suitable school with places available and live at least:
- 2 miles from the school if they are aged under 8
- 3 miles from the school if they are aged 8 or older
*ages are taken at 1 September each school year
Distances are measured by the shortest route along which a child may walk, accompanied as necessary.
Find out if your child is eligible for free transport
Transport Priority Area (TPA)
If your child lives within the designated Transport Priority Area (TPA) of the school they will attend and they meet the statutory walking distance criteria (as above). Every school has a TPA. The TPA may be the same as the catchment area for the school but for some schools it may be different. Please be aware that the transport entitlement for each free school is different.
If your child is attending a free school or an academy the transport entitlement to each free school is different and we have developed specific policies for each one to reflect this.
Your child may be entitled to free home to school travel if you are on low income and receive the maximum Working Tax Credit or if they are entitled to free school meals. A further assessment by the Passenger Transport Team will need to be undertaken to determine if you qualify.
Special Educational Needs (SEN)/ Disability and mobility difficulties
The general policy of the county council is that free transport is provided only for children of compulsory school age (5 years up to 16 years) who:
- are under 8 years of age and live two miles or more from the catchment or nearest school; or
- are 8 years of age and over and live three miles or more from the catchment or nearest school.
Some children are entitled to free travel however far they live from the school if they have an Education, Health, and Care Plan (EHCP) or statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) and cannot walk because of their SEN, a disability or mobility problem.
If your child attends their nearest suitable or TPA school and does not meet the statutory walking distance but you consider the route from home to the school is unsafe for them to walk, accompanied as necessary with reasonable safety, then they can appeal.
If you feel you or your child have exceptional circumstances that require your child to have help with home to school travel you can request your case to be considered by a transport appeal panel.
To travel on home to school/college transport, all users are required to have a travel pass which includes a colour photograph (regardless of age or entitlement).
Who can get one
You should only complete a photo application form if you have received a letter from us informing you of either:
- free entitlement to home to school transport
- confirmation that a place is available on our spare seats transport scheme
Students with special education needs don't need to submit a photo form if the journey to school/college will be made solely on a special needs taxi or minibus. You only need to submit the photo form if any public transport or school/college bus service is involved. The letter confirming your transport will advise you of this.
Receiving your pass
Once your form has been completed and payment (where applicable) has been received, the travel pass will be issued.
This can take up to 10 working days.
When you complete your photo application form online you will be sent an email advising when the card has been sent to print.
Using your pass
Our policy requires students to hold a valid travel pass which incorporates a photograph to show the bus driver that you are entitled to travel.
Travel pass not required
If you have been offered free home-to-school transport and do not wish to take it up please let us know.
Lost, stolen or damaged
If your child is aged 5 to 16 years old and not entitled to free home to school transport, there are other options available.
Public transport routes offer many alternative and convenient routes to and from school/college. Helpful tip: You can search the journey planner using postcodes.
Bus operators own schemes
Many bus operators offer discounted fares and season tickets for young people, to find out current schemes on offer please check with the bus company that operates your bus service.
Connecting Communities is a transport service provided by Suffolk County Council designed to help people travel around the county of Suffolk who might not have access to a regular bus service. The Endeavour Card is also accepted on all Connecting Communities services (Please note you must be 16 years old to qualify for a card)
School/college's own transport
What is spare seats transport?
If there are spare seats on a school bus, we make them available to families living on the route who don't qualify for free home to school or post 16 transport.
How much does it cost?
From 1 September 2016 the cost for spare seats transport will be:
- £200 per seat per term for a student living under 3 miles between their home to school or post 16 education centre.
- £220 per seat per term for a student living over 3 miles between their home to school or post 16 education centre.
This charge will increase each year by £10 per term (£30 per year).
There is no exemption to this cost for families on low income.
Do you still offer spare seats transport to Roman Catholic schools?
In 2011, changes to the Roman Catholic spare seats transport meant that from September 2012 transport arrangements to Roman Catholic schools were phased out. Therefore this is no longer available.
How do I apply for spare seats transport?
You will need to complete an application form to see if we can offer you transport assistance under our spare seats transport scheme.
This can be done by either:
- filling out an online application form
- calling 0345 6066173
Policies and Terms and Conditions
Spare seats policy 2016/17 (PDF, 35.2KB)