New charges for home-to-school transport are to be introduced for students in post-16 education.
North Yorkshire County Council spends more on transporting children and young people to and from school than any other county in England, due to the sparse nature of some communities and long distances many students travel to school or college.
Despite this, the council’s annual fee of £490 for families with young people in post-16 education has been one of the lowest in the country.
On Tuesday (May 21) the Children and Young People’s Executive committee met to discuss changing its current annual fee.
Councillors voted to increase this fee to £600, bringing it in line with the majority of county councils, who charge in the region of £600 to £700 a year.
The current cost per year to the council per student is from £900 for a place on a bus, to £30,000 for specialist provision with passenger assistance. Up to £2.8 million is spent on post-16 transport provision, with the council currently receiving about one sixth of that (£0.5m) in contribution fees.
“We haven’t taken this decision lightly and have held the travel fee for post-16 students for a number of years to help relieve cost pressures on families, but faced with competing demands on our overall budget, we have had to make some difficult decisions on spending,” said County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Education and Skills.
“Council funding for post-16 transport is discretionary, but North Yorkshire has always subsidised the cost as an important service to families. Many live in rural locations and travel to the nearest school or college for post-16 provision can be over longer distances than in many other councils.
“We will continue to heavily subsidise post-16 transport and low income families will continue to receive a 50 per cent discount.”