Views urgently sought on school travel arrangements for September 2020

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority is asking parents to help inform plans for travel when all children return to school in September.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority is asking parents to help inform plans for travel when all children return to school in September. 

 

Across West Yorkshire, in normal times, around 20,000 children and young people use the public transport network to travel to school every day. However, to maintain social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, buses and trains are currently only able to carry around half their usual number of passengers.  

 

To make sure that there is enough space on the public transport network for everyone, plans need to be made for the additional journeys that will be made as children return to school in September. These plans may need to assume that children and young people who live less than two miles from school will be asked to consider walking or cycling where it is safe to do so. 

 

In addition to the 20,000 school pupils who usually use public buses, another 20,000 travel on dedicated school buses provided by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and its five partner councils (Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield). When schools reopen in full in September, dedicated school buses will resume as before, with a small number of refinements. Government guidance states that these buses will be allowed to use the full capacity of each vehicle. Subject to funding being available, more dedicated school buses may be provided. 

 

The Combined Authority is working with local councils and transport providers to identify which public transport routes will be the busiest in September and has launched a survey to find out more about how parents intend their children to travel. 

 

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

 

"The return of all children to school in September will pose a huge challenge to the transport system as we try and maximise capacity while maintaining social distancing and Government funding is essential to achieve this. 

 

"We need as much information as possible about how children are intending to travel in September to inform our planning and discussions with the Department for Transport which is why we need as many people as possible to complete this survey.

 

In West Yorkshire, the Combined Authority is working closely with schools and our Councils to arrange the transport necessary to make the return to school safe and successful for pupils across the region. However, to ensure safe social distancing we will need to commission extra buses and we are in discussions with Government on the costs of this. 

 

“We continue to work with bus operators and others to make sure the transport network is as resilient as possible. We are seeking a long-term funding solution with the Department for Transport to ensure we can maximise capacity on the network while maintaining social distancing.” 

 

More information and the survey is available at https://www.yourvoice.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/schools-transport 

The survey closes on Friday 31 July.