Following a decision at the Council Meeting on 21 December 2022, it was agreed to review school transport, saving the Council £200k. The Educational Services Committee agreed on 8 March 2023 to review free school transport to provide free school transport to pupils who attend their local catchment school, to primary pupils living more than two miles away from their school and to secondary pupils who live more than three miles away from their school. The Committee agreed to bring a report back to the Educational Services Committee with the results of the consultation and new recommendations on Friday 7 July 2023.
The consultation ran for 31 school days from Thursday 9 March 2023 to Tuesday 9 May 2023. Three public meetings were held to give residents, parents and carers the chance to ask questions and give their views.
Members of the public raised a number of concerns about the impact of changes to school transport during the consultation including safety; impact on attendance; time taken to walk to school; weather conditions; households with children attending different establishments; contracts for school transport; accessibility of consultation; identification and realisation of benefits; provision of public transport; equity of provision and the impact on denominational schools.
The Council received feedback from The Archdiocese of Glasgow of the Roman Catholic Church, as well as Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) and First Bus. All were unsupportive of the proposal.
HM Inspectors agreed the proposal is in line with national guidance and statutory walking distances as well as with the potential benefits through active travel. They do not agree that the Council have set out sufficiently the potential educational benefits to address concerns raised by Stakeholders.
It is recommended that the current policy is retained with all primary aged children who live one mile or more and secondary pupils who live two miles or more from school continuing to access free transport.
It is recommended that the Council maintain the existing home to school distance, but remove the provision of bus passes issued by the Council for use on public service buses, requiring children and young people who use public service buses to travel to and from school to make use of their Under 22 travel pass instead.
There is no change to dedicated contract buses. The only change is the type of bus pass some of our children and young people use to access public service buses. Instead of being provided with a Council bus pass to travel to and from school on a public service bus, we will require them to use their Under 22 Travel Pass instead.
The recommendation is to replace the Council issued travel passes on public service buses with the Scottish Government Under 22 Pass saving £185,000 a year.
Applications to access free school transport can be made as normal and can be accessed through Schools, School Travel and Transport page on the West Dunbartonshire Council Website.
Anyone under the age of 22 years can apply for the Under 22 Travel Pass. Families can apply anytime and do not need to wait until the end of term.
The number of children and young people currently affected is 366.
The Council has worked with West Dunbartonshire Leisure Trust, , Skills Development Scotland and the Schools Senior Phase Team to encourage uptake.
The Council will aim to achieve 100% uptake for those that wish to participate in the Under 22 Travel Pass scheme by August whilst continuing to support pupils currently not in receipt of their Under 22 Travel Pass. Senior Phase team members and school offices will directly support the small number of individuals who are still to get their Under 22 Travel Pass.
There will be a transition period when children who don’t have the Under 22 Travel Pass will still be able to use a Council provided bus pass for use on their allocated public service provision. Only when they have their Under 22 Travel Pass we will discontinue the Council provided bus pass. We would encourage parents/carers to ensure children who require free school transport apply for the Under 22 Travel Pass during the transition period to help us move as quickly as possible away from Council provided bus passes.
In the event of moving to a new address or moving into the Council area, any pupils would be supported to apply for an Under 22 Travel Pass, with temporary arrangements made in the interim if required.
School Offices can assist children and young people in gaining a replacement Under 22 Travel Pass, and assist with temporary arrangements for travel in the interim period if required.
The Council was required to implement a statutory consultation process to adopt a robust and transparent framework regarding the proposed change in policy. The Educational Services Committee used the information gathered during the statutory consultation to implement the revised proposal.
Yes. The consultation highlighted the benefits of the Under 22 Travel pass scheme, and we have seen an increase in the number of children and young people participating. Presently West Dunbartonshire Council has the 3rd highest uptake of the Under 22 Travel Pass scheme nationally.
A number of families whose children did not qualify for a free Council pass due to them being within the one mile or two mile limit have benefited from the free travel they get from the Under 22 Travel Pass.
The Committee includes Elected Members, Teachers Representatives, Church Representatives and Youth Members of Scottish Parliament.
The Council will update this list of FAQs when more information becomes available.