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School Buses and how they are funded?

2 months ago Tue 7th Jan 2020

Updated 7th January 2020

Generally, the cost of an academic year school bus pass is £1000. If it is currently costing less than this then this is either being subsidised by the company, school, authority or other institutes.  

There are a number of types of school buses, and all are funded differently.  Here are some examples below:-

  • School bus to Brockenhurst or Kingston Maurward College – private arrangement with the College and they set the fees.  Currently £1050 per year.
  • Bus route funded by the school, for example, Highcliffe School offer three of these routes from the New Forest and the school set the prices.
  • School bus for entitled children running between Sturminster Newton and Lockyers School. This is a contract that we fulfil for Dorset Council.  They pay us the entire amount required to operate the service.  The Council issue passes to the students and they travel free.  ‘entitled’ students mean that they need to travel more than 3 miles to their allocated school. If the choice of school is a parental choice this does not count.
  • Private school bus arrangements led by parents – a couple of these arrangements are in place.  One from Verwood to Poole & Parkstone Grammar, and 3 routes from the New Forest to Bournemouth School for Girls.  Parents pay the organiser who has the contract with the bus company
  • Commercial arrangement with the bus company, the majority of the routes that we operate work in this way.  These routes include 46, 60, 81, 85, 86, 87 and 88.  We operate these services without financial support and hope that we generate enough students to cover the cost of operation.  The cost of running these buses is approximately £50,000 per year.  We offer 70 seats and therefore the cost £714 per year.

The current pricing structure for students travelling on school buses operated on a commercial basis without financial support is as follows.

  • School Bus Day ticket is £4.30
  • School Bus 7 Day ticket is £18
  • School Bus 30 Day ticket is £60
  • School Bus 90 Day ticket is £175
  • School Bus Annual is £690

Where there are 70 students travelling on a school bus the cost is £714 per academic year. If it is a single-deck bus with 50 students travelling, the cost will be £1000. The fare options are as follows:

  • 38 weeks x £18 = £684
  • 10 months x £60 = £660
  • 4 x 90-days = £700
  • For 12 months (including school holidays) = £690

As a parent what can I do to change this?

If we were to receive a financial contribution from the school or from the council for operating the service we can reduce the price that we are charging.  In order for the route to be financially sustainable, we have to cover the cost of operation and therefore generate £50,000 per year.  Over the years this number may increase as the cost of fuel changes, or labour or congestion worsens.

In order to get the school or council to make a financial contribution, you will need to discuss this with your local councillor or the school themselves.  In terms of senior schools, the school get a financial contribution from Government for each child they have on the role, the more they have the more money they generate, so in some cases, it is beneficial for them to attract new students to the school by offering a school service.

I only want the pass for school days, can I have it cheaper?

The prices that we charge represent the cost for school days, we add weekends evening and school holidays for free.  We feel that it adds better value helps with the development of the social awareness of young people and offers more flexibility for 6th formers.

Why can I only buy it on the bus and from the Travel Shop?

We have also now made the school bus tickets available on the app. This may not be suitable for some families and that is why we make it available from the Travel Shop and on the bus.

Please remember that if you have bought the tickets at the current price they are still valid.

We do realise that in some cases the cost of travel is very expensive. We feel that the rate of £690 for an entire year travelling on commercial school buses and across the network does offer value for money. If you have any further questions about how school buses work please email [email protected] and we will try to answer your query.

Thank you.


Simon Newport

Head of Commercial

Yellow Buses

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