Transport network prepared for the return of West Yorkshire’s students

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has been working with local councils and transport operators to ensure students can travel safely and observe social distancing when schools and colleges reopen in September.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has been working with local councils and transport operators to ensure students can travel safely and observe social distancing when schools and colleges reopen in September.  

While current government guidelines state that no social distancing will be needed on dedicated school buses, pupils who use regular bus services will need to maintain social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Across West Yorkshire, in normal times, around 20,000 children and young people use the public transport network to travel to school every day. Funding has now been made available by the Department for Education to help provide additional services to meet the demand expected in September. 

Extra school buses may be provided at schools with a heavy reliance on the public transport network. However, this will not apply at every school. In most cases, children and young people who are not able to walk or cycle to school will be able to travel on public transport as normal.  

To help inform where additional buses may be required, the Combined Authority carried out an online survey to understand how children are planning to travel to school, with over 5,000 parents taking part. Overall, there was only a slight difference in how children were planning to travel pre-COVID-19 and now, with only 4% switching how they travel to school. 

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said:  

“Getting students safely and successfully back on public transport for schools returning in September is going to be crucial, so the information provided by parents has been really valuable in helping us identify where we may need to provide additional bus services to help ensure the network is resilient as possible.  

“While there are some changes on board, we want to pupils and young people to feel confident using public transport when they return to school and colleges in September.  

“To help reassure passengers, extra cleaning is being carried out across all bus stations, interchanges and shelters in West Yorkshire. This includes extra attention to ensure touch points are regularly cleaned and remain disinfected. Bus and rail operators have stepped up their cleaning regimes and introduced new technology to ensure vehicles are as clean and safe as possible for customers.” 

When schools reopen in full in September, dedicated school buses will resume as before, with a small number of refinements. A full list of services and timetable information has been made available to schools and on the www.wymetro.com/schools website. 

Those travelling on the network will need to be aware of the following:  

  • Face coverings are required for children aged 11 and above, unless exempted for medical or other reasons. Where this is the case, assistance cards can be downloaded from the Metro website here and can be printed out to show to public transport staff or simply shown to staff on your mobile phone  
  • Normal fares will apply with students being asked to pay using an MCard or app where possible 
  • Walk or cycle to school if possible 
  • When travelling in a car, consider parking a few streets away and walking the short distance
  • Do not travel if you or any member your household is displaying any COVID-19 symptoms 

Young people planning on making several journeys could benefit from buying MCard’s MyDay ticket from £2.50 which offers under 19s flexible and unlimited bus travel, on any bus, throughout West Yorkshire. For more regular travellers, MCard also offers a weekly bus ticket for just £10.30 and a monthly ticket for £37.80, these allow travel on any bus in West Yorkshire. To find out more please visit www.m-card.co.uk.