West Yorkshire Combined Authority – School transport update

I have been sent this update.

“Last month, I wrote to you setting out how the Combined Authority was preparing transport arrangements for the return to school and college in September. As we approach this critical time for our young people, I thought it worthwhile to update you further.

Our teams have been working closely with schools, colleges, local authority officers and transport operators to plan the transport provision necessary for a safe return to school. We launched an online survey to understand the travel plans of pupils and families and received over 5,000 responses which have informed the planning and we have shared these with schools and councils.

We are making arrangements for around 60 extra buses that are needed across West Yorkshire to provide the capacity needed. The Combined Authority has received funding from Department for Education (DfE) to assist with the additional costs of this. The DfE has also issued guidance on travel to school and college which we are following.

Planning new services will be finalised this week and we will communicate the details to schools, local authorities and through our website wymetro.com from Monday 24 August.

Key points to assist any enquiries you may receive;

  • Pupils and students who can walk or cycle to school / college are encouraged to do so. We are working with schools, colleges and Council officers to promote this.
  • Pupils who would normally travel to school on a “closed” school bus (used only by pupils to that respective school) will continue to do so, there may be changes to routes and timetables. The DfE guidance provides that closed school buses can be used up to their full licenced capacity.
  • Pupils who travel on regular bus services may need to use a new “closed” bus service instead, this is because social distancing is limiting the capacity of regular bus services – details of these services will be available on wymetro.com and through schools.
  • We will work with schools to align with separation arrangements which apply in school. For example encouraging students to self-separate on the journey with older students travelling upstairs on double deck buses or towards the back of the bus on single decks.
  • The Combined Authority will monitor the services to ensure they are working satisfactorily. Spare buses and drivers will be available to address issues which may arise.
  • We are working with the respective train companies to ensure there is capacity for those pupils / students who use the train. There is a new train timetable coming into force on 15 September when the timing of journeys may change.
  • Bus and rail fares will apply as normal, pupils / students will be encouraged to buy MCard or other tickets in advance to reduce the handling of cash.
  • Everyone over the age of 11 must wear a face covering on a bus or train unless exempt on health grounds.
  • To maintain safeguarding, bus drivers will not refuse to carry pupils who do not wear a face covering or observe seating arrangements. Persistent refusal will be reported to the school.
  • Transport arrangements for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) will be made on the basis of a pupil specific assessment.
  • Pupils and students are advised not to travel if they have symptoms of Coronavirus.
  • Bus operators have adopted guidance on cleaning, protective screens and other precautions.
  • Pupils / students are encouraged to carry hand sanitiser – there are practical difficulties in dispensing sanitiser on buses and trains.
  • Government advice on car sharing encourages the wearing of face coverings, keeping windows open and leaving seats free.
  • Arrangements may be subject to change at short notice in the event of a local outbreak or new restrictions.

September will be an uncertain time as pupils , students, schools and transport operators adapt to the new arrangements. Our teams will monitor the situation closely and will take the necessary steps to ensure a safe and organised travel to school.

www.westyorks-ca.gov.uk | www.the-lep.com

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