Memorandum by the Department for Education
and Skills (Bus 32)
THE BUS INDUSTRY
Gross "provisional" expenditure on
primary, secondary and special schools for 2000-01 is £532
milion in total, of which £245.2 million relates to special
schools. The 1999-2000 "final" figure is £485 million
(£484.6 million) of which £216 million (£215.6
million) relates to special schools. Year on year increases are
£47.5 million (9.8 per cent) of which £29.5 million
(13.7 per cent) relates to special schools.
It is likely that increases in home-school transport
expenditure will continue to rise above the level of inflation.
It is thought that these increases are due to higher transport
costs for bus operators [petrol, lack of drivers] and the reluctance
of some firms to take on the "school run" because of
the associated problems [vandalism, poor pupil behaviour].
As costs rise, many LEAs will increasingly only
provide the statutory minimum cutting back on discretionary services
to denominational or grammar schools. There is also pressure on
LEAs to stick rigidly to the statutory walking distances of two
and three miles.
This is predominantly done through the work
Guidance on full local transport plans (March
2000) states that local transport plans (LTPs) should make it
clear how policies and provision towards the bus are integrated
with those towards walking, cycling, the private car and other
road traffic. On travel to school, links with the relevant parts
of the local transport plan, such as road safety, traffic management,
walking, cycling and bus use should be made clear. It is for local
authorities to decide how to use their statutory powers in this
Separately, Transport 2010The 10-Year
Plan sets out the Government's vision for modernising our transport
system. Integrating public transportimproved planning,
easier connections, better traffic management, more park and ridewill
ensure all forms of transport work better together for the benefit
of people and business.
There is no direct monitoring of the quality
of home-to-school transport by the Department, this is the responsibility
of individual Local Education Authorities as they are contracting
for the services.
FirstGroup is the UK's largest transport operator
and their first commercial yellow bus service went into operation
in North Yorkshire on 18 February 2002. Children from six infant
and junior schools in Calderdale use the buses, which offer a
door-to-door service. The children are picked up at, or close
to, home, and routes are selected to provide the most efficient
journey based around each child's address. Every day the children
will have the same driver, who has received comprehensive public
service vehicle training in customer care, safety, security and
child behaviour. The second pilot scheme started on 25 February
in Surrey and more are expected to follow in due course.
The pilots will be run in partnership between
parents, schools, and local authorities and the operator First
Group. There will be no extra government money involved in the
pilots; it is for participating local education authorities to
decide whether they want to spend their school transport budgets
on these vehicles rather than their existing contracts.
The Department for Education and Skills welcomes
the Audit Commission's work and is looking closely at its recommendations,
however, there have been no changes to the provision subsequent
to their report of December 2001.