Applying for a spare seat

If you are not eligible for Suffolk County Council funded travel for the 2023/24 academic year, you can apply to purchase a spare seat. These seats can only be offered on closed contract buses (those that are used solely for transporting school children and not used by the general public). A spare seat will not be offered where there is a public service bus in operation.

New legislation (Public Service Vehicle Access Regulations (PSVAR) came into effect in January 2020. PSVAR limits the number of spare seats we can offer.  Spare seats can only be offered on current closed contracts for up to 20% of the seat capacity of the vehicle, this is in line with the Department for Transport’s (DfT) exemptions for PSVAR.  This means that there may be some unallocated seats on the vehicle, but we are not legally permitted to sell them if this would exceed the 20% threshold.

You should be aware that, due to changing demand and to ensure that school travel is operated efficiently, routes may have to be reviewed and amended at any time. Should an eligible child need a seat on the bus, they will take priority over a child using a spare seat. This means that we are unable to guarantee that any spare seat purchased would be available for the whole of your child’s time at the school. Where a spare seat has to be withdrawn we would normally give a parent 6 weeks’ notice to allow some time to make alternative travel arrangements.

The cost of a spare seat increases annually so you should check the current relevant policy (the School Travel Policy for those under age 16 or the Post-16 School Travel Policy) for the current price per term.

You can apply for a spare seat, that will be allocated on a first come first served basis as seats for eligible pupils have now been allocated. The Passenger Transport Team will process these as quickly as possible and before the start of the new school year, however, you should be prepared to get your child to school at the start of term by other means if necessary.

For applications received on the same day spare seat will be processed in the following priority order:

  1. those who previously had a spare seat and are aged 16-18 years;
  2. Looked After Children;
  3. children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) who do not have a statutory entitlement to funded travel but who may benefit from a seat on a bus due to their SEND;
  4. siblings of those who have a statutory entitlement to free travel;
  5. children who are not eligible for funded travel (including those aged 19 and over who started on their course before their 19th birthday).

If we are able to offer your child a spare seat we will send you an invoice for payment. From September 2023 the cost of the seat is £320 per term. The cost of this is reduced by 50% if the student is eligible for or receiving free school meals. 

If we do not hold a photograph of your child for the travel pass, please complete a photo form.

Once we have received your payment and we have your child’s photograph, we will arrange for a travel pass to be sent to you.

Please note, applications for a spare seat for September 2024 (academic year 2024/25) open on 01 July 2024. Any applications made before this date will not be considered.

If you have any queries regarding the above process, please contact the Passenger Transport Team on 0345 606 6173 or email them at

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