New research has found that nearly 80% of local authorities have reduced school and college transport since 2010. The impact on families has been huge - outside of London, 300,000 children and 50,000 young people have lost their transport to school or college since 2008. Two thirds no longer provide any free transport for 16-18 year olds. Rural areas have been particularly badly hit.
The loss of school transport affects all of us. It's estimated that there are an extra 100 million car journeys made each year due to cuts to school and college transport, increasing traffic and congestion and worsening air quality, particularly around schools. Many parents have struggled to find the extra money – which can run into hundreds of pounds – to pay for fares; and pupils have been faced with long walks to and from school, sometimes on dark and unsafe roads.
Please write to the leader of your local council today and ask them what they will do to protect school and college transport.
"This will mean that I have to pay £50-60 a month in bus fares - that's if there's a bus available... If not I may be forced to change my work hours or my job to drive my children to school along Braintree's already severely congested roads"
- Ann Hooks, Essex. More real stories here - and tell us yours.
Not sure who the leader of your local council is? Your council website will have their name and email address, in the 'Cabinet' section. You can find the details of your local council and their website here. We would be very grateful if you would copy firstname.lastname@example.org in on your email. Thank you.
Together we can send a powerful message to local councils that they need to save our school and college buses.
Suggested text for your email to the leader of your local council
If you are short of time, you could use this text for your email to the leader of your local council. Please adapt it as you wish - or write your own message if you prefer:
Dear Council Leader [or insert your council leader's name]
I'm writing to you because I'm concerned about school and college transport in [insert area].
[Insert your own reason for concern here]
The recent 'School Transport Matters' report found that since 2008, more than 350,000 children and around 50,000 16-18 year olds outside London have lost their entitlement to school transport. Four out of five local authorities have reduced the school transport that they offer, and two thirds no longer provide any free college transport for 16-18 year olds.
I recognise that local authorities are under severe financial strain, but transport to schools and colleges is a crucial service for many people, especially those on low incomes.
These cuts have a really big impact on families, that isn't sufficiently recognised. The report showed how many parents now have to find hundreds of pounds to pay fares for their children to get to school or college. Pupils are faced with long walks to and from school, sometimes on dark and unsafe roads. There's been a huge increase in traffic: school bus cuts are estimated to have resulted in an extra 100 million car journeys every year, which has meant more congestion and pollution on local roads. Some 16-18 year olds, faced with large bills for travelling to their college of choice at the same time as Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) has been cut, have had to curtail their ambitions as they simply can't afford the fares to travel to their preferred course. Others have simply dropped out.
School buses provide a vital service. Not only do they free up parents from the time and expense of the school run, but they enable children and young people to access education and they reduce air pollution and traffic – one double decker bus can carry the equivalent of 75 cars worth of passengers!
Please let me know what you will do to protect school and college transport in [name of area] above the bare minimum prescribed by law, so that children and young people can access education easily and affordably. I would also be grateful if you could pass on my letter to the councillor responsible for home to school transport.
Many thanks, I look forward to hearing from you.
[Insert your name]