Parents and carers are urged to be ready for a legal change that may affect their child’s journey to school.
From January 1 2020, any bus or coach with more than 22 seats that takes fare-paying passengers must be wheelchair-accessible.
Any operator found flouting the new Public Service Vehicle Regulations can be fined up to £2,500 for each breach.
Middlesbrough Council is only responsible for arranging travel assistance for ‘eligible children’, and has written to those families to tell them how this change in legislation will affect their child’s travel arrangements. No child has had their travel eligibility removed.
That means any pupils who usually buy a place to travel on a council-managed school bus will no longer be able to do so. Only children who currently qualify for free travel assistance will be able to travel on any designated school buses managed by the council. However, places are limited and other forms of travel assistance may then need to be offered.
While the legal responsibility to ensure children attend school – including travel – rests with parents, carers and guardians, for non-eligible children, the school transport team has been liaising with schools and academies to ensure that those affected by the changes are supported appropriately.
Some schools organise their own buses for fee-paying children. Your school should be writing to inform you whether they are able to continue to provide transport for fee-paying pupils. If the bus they use is not an accessible bus, they may not be able to do so under the new legislation. If they are unable to do so, you will need to look at alternative travel arrangements.
These could include walking or cycling, which have proven health benefits for young people.
Alternatively, Middlesbrough and our school sites also have a good supply of public service buses. There are many information apps that can be downloaded to a mobile or handset that publicise route and journey planning and public service bus timetables.
Timetables for public service buses can be found on the website of each individual company (Stagecoach, Arriva, etc.), and Connect Tees Valley which offers timetable information and a journey planner.
Further information on home to school transport and eligibility can be found on the home to school transport page.