School transport

Qualifying for free school transport

Whilst it is your responsibility as a parent/carer to ensure your child receives an education, South Ayrshire Council can help you get your child to school safely and on time. Where children and young people attend and live more than the specified walking distance from their catchment school the Council will assist with school travel by making available free school transport for all or part of the journey.

The policy states that we provide free school transport if:

  • Your child lives more than two miles from his or her catchment primary school (by the shortest safe walking route).
  • Your child lives more than three miles from his or her catchment secondary school (by the shortest safe walking route).
  • Your child has to walk a route to school which, after taking advice, Educational Services considers unsafe.

The Council may also provide free school transport if:

  • It has been recommended on health grounds by a designated medical officer - Requests for transport on medical grounds should, in the first instance, be supported by a letter from your GP
  • Your child attends a school to meet his/her additional support needs. (These assessments involve staff from Educational Services who also recommend the most appropriate transport arrangements for your child).

Placing requests

Please note that if your child attends a school by means of a placing request you are responsible for arranging transport to school.

What free school transport means:

Educational Services identifies when children need to be provided with free school transport. For primary and secondary schools we work with Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) which appoints the operators who provide free school transport. For children with additional support needs Educational Services makes all transport arrangements.

The decision on the most appropriate type of transport is made by Educational Services after taking all circumstances into account.

This can result in any of the following types of transport being used:

  • Dedicated school contract bus (service solely for pupils)
  • Bus pass on local service bus (which can either be a commercial service or subsidised local service also carrying members of the public).
  • Train pass on service train
  • The Council's own vehicles
  • Taxi, private hire cars or minibus.

Free transport normally covers one journey to school in the morning and one journey home at the end of the school day. No additional provision is made for home journeys for infants who may have a shorter day until September each year.

Parents/carers of children wishing to return home for lunch are required to make their own arrangements.

When to apply for free transport

If your child is starting primary school you should apply when you enroll your child for school. If your child is starting secondary school you should apply in February of his or her last year at primary school. Applications which are received after this time will be processed; however, there could be a delay while the arrangements are put in place. Should you move house at any time during the year you should ensure that your child’s school is notified of your new address. To ensure that transport is arranged, a minimum of 2 weeks’ notice is required.

What happens after you apply?

You will be informed by Educational Services by letter of the outcome of your application. Staff at County Buildings, Ayr will be happy to discuss this or any other matter connected with your child's application with you.


We expect you to ensure that your child behaves properly and safely when boarding, travelling on the transport and alighting from it. As parents you are responsible for ensuring that your child arrives at the pick-up point on time.


We expect all children to behave properly and safely when boarding, during the journey to and from school and alighting from school transport. Misbehaviour could result in your child losing the right to free school transport.

Where children misbehave, the driver may retain their tickets/travel passes to confirm the identity of those involved. The incident will then be reported to the driver's supervisor. Details will be sent to the Head Teacher and parents/carers will be contacted by the school for assurance on their children's good conduct prior to the return of the ticket/travel pass. During this period parents/carers will be responsible for making their own arrangements for the attendance of their child at school.

If you need to know more or would like to complain

If you have any enquiries about the eligibility of your child for free school transport you should contact Educational Services.

In the first instance parents/carers who have any concerns or a complaint relating to the provision of free school transport should contact the school their child attends and provide details of their concern/complaint which will then be recorded and submitted to SPT.

SPT is responsible for awarding primary and secondary school contracts and for their day to day operation. SPT actively monitors the performance of school transport contracts through the deployment of a team of specialist inspectors. To assist in monitoring SPT welcomes comments or concerns from schools or from parents.


If you wish to appeal against any decision made regarding your application for school transport you should do so in writing to Educational Services within 10 working days of receipt of the decision, indicating the grounds on which you wish to make your appeal.

Educational Services

Educational Services
Pupil Services
County Buildings
Wellington Square


Tel: 01292 612284