Campaigners have called for more to be done to protect school and college transport after a report claimed cuts have generated up to 100 million extra car journeys every year.
Campaign for Better Transport’s (CBT) School Transport Matters report says nearly 80% of local authorities have reduced school transport since 2010, with children in rural England the worst affected, while two thirds of councils no longer provide any free transport to post 16 students.
School transport cuts have increased car journeys, a report says
The report says 300,000 children and 50,000 young people aged 16-18 have lost their transport to school or college since 2008, mainly in areas of England outside London.
It adds that the loss of school transport provision is estimated to have resulted in more than 100 million extra car journeys annually.
Lianna Etkind, public transport campaigner at CBT, said: ‘School buses are essential to reducing congestion and improving air quality, as well as ensuring young people are able to access their choice of school or college.
‘What these figures reveal is a real divide opening up between urban and more rural areas, with children in rural areas having fewer and fewer public transport options.’
She added: ‘For many parents the choice between working and taking their children to school is becoming a real issue. If the Government is serious about reducing traffic jams and air pollution, it should start with supporting decent school transport.’
The report was compiled by consultants STC using figures taken from a survey of local authorities
It says nearly a million pupils across the UK get school transport from their local authority.
Councils are legally obliged to provide free school transport for certain groups of children under 16, but provision beyond that is discretionary.
CBT urged ministers to extend statutory provision up to the age of 18, when young people can legally leave education or training, and for a consistent national concessionary fares scheme for young people.
It also called for the new Bus Services Bill to strengthen the duty on councils to assess needs for public transport services and show they have taken steps to meet these.