Last updated:
24 November 2017

Free school transport

Find out if your child is eligible for free school transport.

1 Overview

Normally, it is the responsibility of parents to get their children to and from school safely. However, your child may be able to get free transport to school, if:

Where help is agreed, it will usually be given through one or more of the following ways:

  • A free place on a contract or school bus.
  • A rail or bus season ticket.
  • A fuel allowance where travel by car is agreed.
  • A taxi or minibus, in exceptional circumstances only, usually for children with severe disabilities.
  • A contribution towards the cost of travel.

2 Eligibility

Free travel will be provided if a child:

  • is of statutory school age
Children are of statutory school age at the beginning of the term following their fifth birthday. School leaving age is the last Friday in June in the school year in which a pupil reaches the age of 16.
  • attends the catchment or nearest suitable school to their home
This is the school that caters for your child’s age group and is usually the nearest, geographically, to your home. Sometimes the furthest parts of a catchment area may be closer to an alternative school.
  • and, using the nearest route by road and/or recognised footpaths and the like, lives:
    • 2 or more miles away for a child under 8
    • 3 or more miles away for a child aged 8 and over.

Exceptions may be made where the County Council regards the walking route between the home and the school as too hazardous for the child to walk, even when accompanied by an adult, taking account of the age of the child and there being no suitable alternative walking route.

This exception does not apply where the child does not attend their nearest or catchment school.

If your child is not eligible for free transport you may still be able to apply for a concessionary seat on a school bus, minibus or taxi.

Additional information

3 Apply

Starting secondary school in September

We will write to you by the end of the summer term asking you to confirm that your child requires transport if your child is:

  • on our system
  • starting secondary school
  • eligible for help with transport.

Once you've confirmed transport is required we will write to you and send the pass to the school ready to collect at the start of term. You can find more information about this on the next section.


Please contact us if you believe that you meet the criteria for free school transport and your child is either:

  • starting infant or primary school
  • joining a school at any other time during the year.

If your application is successful we'll write to you with more information about your child's free travel.

If your application is unsuccessful we'll write to you explaining why.

4 Collecting and using the pass

Your child can collect their bus pass from their school at the beginning of term. Until they've collected their pass they can use the allocation letter or last year's pass (if it is a renewal). 

Rail tickets can be collected from the nearest staffed train station using the letter. 

The pass can only be used:

  • by the child named on the pass
  • to travel to and from the address and school named on the pass
  • on school days
  • at the beginning and end of normal school hours.

The leaflet below provides further guidance about travelling.

5 Moving house

If your child attends the catchment or nearest school and you move away from the area, you may receive help. This would be subject to reasonable costs and of meeting the relevant distance criteria if all the following apply:

  • Your new address is within West Sussex.
  • Your child continues to attend the same school.
  • Your child is in Year 10 and has been following, for at least one term, a course leading to a public examination.
  • The journey can be considered reasonable for the student.

If help is agreed it will be for the duration of the course only.

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