Returning to school using transport

On 11 August, the government updated their guidance for school transportation plans for September. The guidance has reinforced the plans that are already or will be in place when the schools return.

The plans apply to all children travelling to and from school, whether they:

  • are entitled to free school transport via a minibus, taxi or coach
  • use a Travel Saver or a 16+ Travel Saver.

There are, however, some differences between guidance for public transport use and home to school transport.

Read the full government guidance report.

To help your child understand what catching the bus will look like, please sit down with them and watch this short video that explains the changes.

All of our transport services will be running as usual but there will be some differences designed to make sure that there is enough space for all children needing to travel and that the transport is as safe as possible.

Social distancing will apply to most buses, however the government have said that some services that are mainly used for schools can be changed to only carry school children. On these buses, operators can then use more of the space on the bus making use of all forward facing seats.

View the list of services that are only available for school children (PDF, 88.6 KB)

We have also been given funding to provide extra buses where we are worried about social distancing space. From the start of the new academic year, we expect over 80 extra buses to be running with fewer children on board. Therefore we are confident that there will be enough space.

If there are any problems, then we will work to fix them by providing alternative transport.

View the list of extra buses (PDF, 86.7 KB)

Go Coach bus service changes

Go Coach have made changes to the following school bus services to improve journeys to school:

  • T3 (Knockholt to Tonbridge)
  • S32 (St Pauls Cray to Sevenoaks)
  • S33 (new service from Chelsfield Station to Knole Academy)
  • S14 (new service from Swanley to Trinity bus park)
  • TW10 (Wrotham Heath to Tunbridge Wells)
  • TW11 (Wrotham to Tunbridge Wells)
  • TW12 (new service from Ightham to St Johns Road, Tunbridge Wells).

For more information visit the Go Coach website.

Student guidance

For students travelling to school by bus, they must:

  • observe social distancing rules put in place
  • be seated at all times
  • use contact-less payment or travel cards where necessary
  • not eat or drink on the bus
  • keep all windows open for ventilation
  • follow instructions provided by the transport provider
  • wash or sanitize their hands before and after their journey
  • wear face coverings.

Transport provider guidance

To ensure the safety of children travelling to school, transport providers must:

  • raise cleaning standards and pay attention to high contact areas
  • increase ventilation by keeping all windows open (where possible)
  • work with schools and colleges to support any staggered start and finish times and “bubbles” where possible
  • wear face coverings for all staff unless separated by a perspex screen
  • work with schools to cater for staggered times (where possible)
  • ensure passengers sit on front facing seats only
  • accept all bus passes to allow the student to get to school
  • provide extra vehicles on busier services for students only (where possible)
  • monitor all services and new guidance for any changes.

Alternative ways to travel

The government are advising that those students who can walk or cycle to school should do so.

We are aware that this may not always be the case, and we advise that parents wishing to take their children to school themselves, please do so.

Train companies are applying similar measures to other forms of public transport to ensure that space is available and that journeys are as safe as possible.

Face coverings must be worn on trains.

New timetables will be introduced from 7 September and extra staff are being deployed to help manage social distancing and one-way systems at train stations. For more information visit the back to school pages of the Southeastern website.

Student guidance

For students travelling to school by bus, they must:

  • use the seat allocated to them by the driver
  • not eat or drink on the bus
  • keep all windows open for ventilation
  • wear face coverings (where possible)
  • abide by our code of conduct (PDF, 121.3 KB) when using our transport to school.

Transport provider guidance

To ensure the safety of children travelling to school transport providers must:

  • raise cleaning standards and pay attention to high contact areas
  • increase ventilation by keeping all windows open where possible
  • wear face coverings for drivers and passenger assistants unless separated by a perspex screen
  • monitor all services and new guidance for any changes.

We understand that keeping to social distance guidelines in taxis is virtually impossible. To follow guidelines our taxis services will try to:

  • not share the transport between different schools
  • limit the number of passengers in the vehicle (where possible)
  • ensure that your child will sit in the same seat on all journeys.

Alternative ways to travel

The government are advising that those students who can walk or cycle to school should do so.

We are aware that this may not always be the case, and we advise that parents wishing to take their children to school themselves, please contact your transport provider to make them aware of the change.

Travelling by bus

All students over the age of 11 are legally required to wear face coverings on public transportation,  unless exempted because of a medical or other condition. If the student is younger, we advise that they do wear one.

Travelling by taxi, minibus or coach

Although it is not a legal requirement for face coverings to be worn on taxis, minibuses and coaches. We are asking that as many of our passengers as possible do use one, to protect all of the passengers and staff on board.

Exceptions

We are aware that the government has listed some exemptions.

We appreciate young children and those with special educational needs may not be able to wear a face covering. We would ask that parents try to encourage those children to wear a face covering if they can.