Call for parent protest on free bus age limit

A mother has urged parents to protest that over 16s will have to pay for school transport next year even though the leaving age rises to 17.

Diana McGaley, of Orchard Way, Horringer, has urged parents to write to their county councillors and MPs after finding year 11 students applying for a discretionary travel pass face a bill of £480 a year.

Transport for children of ‘compulsory school age’, who live more than three miles from school is currently free but only applies to the age of 16. From September youngsters will have to stay in education to 17 but the free transport age limit remains 16.

Mrs McGaley said: “I am not sure how I and others will afford this bill. Rural communities are yet again being hit by transport costs.

“Let us hope the local authority will make the right decision, issuing free bus passes to students living in rural areas.”

A Suffolk County Council spokesperson said: “The current post-16 discretionary policy offers transport for those who meet the criteria and attend sixth form or further education. Almost half the cost is subsidised by the county.

“Whilst the Government has increased the age to which all young people must stay in education or training, it has not provided any more funding to councils to contribute to the costs of travel.

“It has, however, introduced a 16-19 Bursary Fund which provides up to £1,200 bursaries for young people who need the most help. Individual schools and colleges will also have funding which they can use to provide extra bursaries to anyone they think needs support.”