Should transport to school be free for all students until they turn 18?

It is compulsory that you are in some form of education, whether it’s an apprenticeship or sixth form, until you are 18. The transport to and from school is free for under 16s that live over 3 miles away, however, young people over 16 do not have the same rights to free transport, even though they must stay in education or training.

This is because their transport is reassessed and their travel arrangements may change, even if they stay at the same school. Some local authorities can continue to provide the same transport as before, but this is when they start to charge for it. Surely if it is mandatory to be in education until 18, then the transport should be free or at the very least cheaper than the cost of public transport.

If they do charge, then the amount should be reasonable and affordable. Although there is help for those on certain benefits, it is a sizeable expenditure for those that don’t qualify for any financial assistance. Some people pay close to £1000 a year for the travel costs alone, even if the journey isn’t particularly far. The amount charged should be in relation to how far away the school is from their home, for example, someone who lives 10 minutes away should not pay the same as someone who lives 30 minutes away.

In some cases (usually in rural areas), the costs only cover the specific bus and route and obviously doesn’t cover any travel during school holidays. Where as, students with a bus pass for use on public buses can travel anywhere by bus all year round. The costs are usually lower too.

There are several instances where the bus payment could be a problem. Particularly if parents have more than one child of a similar age going to the same school, then they have to pay double (£2000). It also difficult for anyone to have to pay that much for travel costs alone. However, overpricing is not a problem with every school or authority, but it does raise the question whether school transport should be free until they are out of education.