Trains, Buses, Ferries and Taxis – School Transport

The issue of school transport, buses and the use of taxis has hit the headlines. The leading headline is Cornwall Council spends £3.9m on taxis each year. At face value this is an eye-watering amount, but lets give a little content to that figure.

This figure of £3.9m is part of a school transport budget of £12.4m the Council spends each year. This amount includes the cost for school buses, public buses,  trains, ferries and even taxis.

The reason why the Council spends so much is because we have a legal duty to provide transport to schools if a pupil lives a certain distance from their designated school. For primary school children, we have a legal duty to provide transport if a pupil lives two or more miles from their designated school. And for secondary, it is three miles.

Each school day, the Council transports 13,125 pupils to their places of education. This is broken down as the following:

  • 7500 school bus contracts
  • 1350 taxi/private hire
  • 1800 public bus services
  • 150 rail
  • 75 ferry
  • 2250 post-16

Of course the Council looks at all options when getting a pupil to school. And sometimes due to the remote and rural locations of many of our settlements, we have to use alternative methods of transport, like a taxi. The issue is further complicated with a limited or non-existent public transport network. We where possible have multiple passengers in the taxi. So we do not end up with a couple of taxis going to the same street.

The Council strives to keep the transport cost down, and recently a route which was serviced by a bus at £150 per day was replaced by a taxi at £40 per day. So it makes sense to use a taxi.

If you compare Cornwall to other authorities, we has the lowest average cost per mainstream pupil in the South West – £685 – compared with £986 per mainstream pupil in Devon and £936 in Somerset.

 The council is also undertaking a review of transport. And it is hoped money can be saved. However, as the Council has a legal duty to get our children and young people to school, we will still have to use alternative methods, like taxis



  • Patsy Stevens

    I don’t much care for the maths queries never was my strong point.
    Buses & bus passes-I wonder if there is a strong case for lobbying govt to change or rather return the COUNTRYWIDE bus pass to countywide instead.? After all why should 1.000s of visitors (non residents) be a llowed to travel around the country for free. In addition, will the recent withdrawal or reduction of so many rural services discourage potential future visitors?

  • John Marshall

    Will the recent withdrawal of services lead to an increase in car use and therefore more income for CC from car parks? Will this figure be published?
    Why are we subsidising each and every passenger travelling via Newquay Airport (to the tune of about £40 per trip I was told) but are losing the CC subsidy on some bus routes? It seems to me that the rural relatively poor have to put up with an awful set of reductions in travelling opportunities whilst the relatively rich who use air travel get a huge subsidy. Perhaps I’m wrong but the distribution of subsidy seems more than slightly skewed towards the higher income end of the travelling continuum.
    I respect much of the work thaqt the new Council are putting in place but this aspect seems wrong.

  • Pingback: The week ending 1st November – School Meals, the Media and Degrees | Cllr Andrew Wallis

Please feel free to leave a comment to the post, as I like to hear your views! However, comments that do not meet the rules of the site (found in Blog Disclaimer) will not be published. Furthermore, all comment need to be approved by admin before publication.