Talks are continuing between governments, councils, bus/coach operators and schools to try and ensure that home-to-school transport runs smoothly when schools return after the summer holidays. Many children travel to school on buses and coaches, using either scheduled bus services or dedicated school services. Schools in Scotland are due to return in mid-August and those in England and Wales return in September. In England, the Government says no social distancing is necessary on dedicated school services. But social distancing does apply on scheduled bus services.
LTT understands that a number of ways of handling school transport flows are being considered. On scheduled services that are dominated by schoolchildren, one option could be to convert them to ‘closed’ school buses. For services where there is a mix of passengers an option could be to run duplicate services for the exclusive use of schoolchildren.
The Department for Education may provide a pot of money to cover additional costs.
The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has outlined the work it is undertaking to ensure school transport arrangements work smoothly.
It is working with local councils and transport providers to identify which public transport routes will be the busiest in September. A survey is being conducted to find out more about how parents intend their children to travel to school.
Kim Groves, chair of the WYCA’s transport committee, said: “To ensure safe social distancing we will need to commission extra buses and we are in discussions with Government on the costs of this.”
In addition to the 20,000 school pupils who usually use public buses, another 20,000 travel on dedicated school buses provided by the WYCA and its five member councils (Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield).
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