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