NEW legislation brought in by the Department for Transport means many pupils who use commercial school bus services as a fare-paying passenger will no longer be able to do so.
The changes come in to effect on January 1 throughout the UK, and parents of just over 200 pupils affected by the changes across Carmarthenshire are being advised to plan their children’s journeys to and from school.
A number of local bus operators have, for many years, run commercial services to cater for pupils who live closer to their secondary school than the statutory three-mile walking distance.
The legislation says they can no longer do so unless they provide full disabled access vehicles.
Whilst many of the vehicles are compliant and can therefore continue operating commercially, a small number of the commercial service buses have been withdrawn by providers.
Information has been shared with parents through the schools where services are affected.
Pupils who live beyond the walking distance and who are eligible for free transport, are unaffected by the changes.
Carmarthenshire County Council’s transport department is continuing to lobby the Welsh Government and the Department for Transport to make further allowances within the legislation.
Cllr Hazel Evans, Executive Board Member for Environment, said: “Any decision to stop providing commercial services is a matter for each individual commercial services operator based on their ability to meet the new legislation. These changes affect all commercially provided school buses throughout the UK, and is not a decision taken by the council or the schools.
“Officers within the transport and education departments have been working with the commercial providers and the schools to plan as much as possible for the legislation.
“A number of services will continue to run on a fare-paying basis as they have the required vehicles, but unfortunately we have been advised that there is a small number of services that will no longer be available from the New Year.
“Parents of those affected have been provided with public transport information.”
Further information about school transport can be found on Carmarthenshire County Council’s website www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales
Public transport services can be checked with Traveline Cymru on 0800 464 0000 (freephone) or online at www.traveline.cymru
The following commercial services are affected by the legislation, and will be withdrawn. Parents will need to make alternative arrangements for their children:
L21 Sandy and Morfa – Coedcae School, Llanelli
107 Drefach – Ysgol Maes Y Gwendraeth
109 Tumble – Ysgol Maes Y Gwendraeth
L26 Dafen – Ysgol y Strade, Llanelli
L35 Pemberton/Llwynhendy/Bryn – Ysgol y Strade, Llanelli
The following commercial services are affected by the legislation, however there are a small number of ‘spare seats’ that can be applied for online at www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales:
L20 Llangennech – Bryngwyn School, Llanelli
L28 Maengwynne – Bryngwyn School, Llanelli
L18 Sandy – St John Lloyd School, Llanelli