Vacant Seats Payment Scheme

If your child is not eligible for free school transport, you may be able to receive transport assistance through our Vacant Seats Payment Scheme.

If there are empty seats on the vehicles we hire to transport children who are eligible for free travel, we can offer these seats to other children. This is only available on existing transport that meets suitability criteria and where there is a space. We cannot make any special arrangements to routes or times.

There is a fee and seats are offered on a first come, first served basis at the council’s discretion.

We offer this scheme annually, so you must re-apply each year. There is no guarantee the scheme will always be available and even if you are offered a seat when you apply, it may not be possible to offer a seat to you in subsequent years.

It is the parental responsibility to arrange transport for your child whilst awaiting the outcome of your application. Seats can only be offered after the October half term once children who are eligible for free school transport have been allocated a seat and we know what space we have available. We will not allocate seats under this scheme before half term so please do not chase your application before this time.


The scheme costs £450 a year and can be split into 2 payments of:

  • £180 for terms 2 and 3
  • £270 for terms 4, 5 and 6.

Invoices and payment instructions will be issued in advance of allocating a seat. Non-payment of invoices will result in transport being withdrawn.


If you want to be considered for the scheme, you will need to complete the Vacant Seats Payment Scheme application form. The form will also need to be completed if you have not applied for free school transport, but still wish to be considered for the scheme.

Apply for the Vacant Seats Payment Scheme

For any questions or if you're having difficulties completing the online form email

If you have any questions regarding the scheme, call the relevant school area:

  • East Kent (Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone, Hythe, Swale, Thanet) - 03000 41 45 71
  • West Kent (Dartford, Gravesham, Maidstone, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Malling, Tunbridge Wells) – 03000 41 35 83.