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Free School Transport

Information on who qualifies for free school transport and how to apply.

How do I apply?

The easiest way to apply is using the Free School School Transport online form. This can be used to apply for a first time pass, a renewal, a replacement or to advise of a change of details.

Alternatively an word icon Application Form for Free School Transport - Primary and Secondary [63kb] can be downloaded, or one can be obtained from the school or from the Public Transport Unit using the contact details given on this page.

Who qualifies? 

Apart from those who live in excess of the council qualifying distance the following pupils may also qualify:

Pupils in the care of childminders

If a child is attending a catchment school, and would normally receive free transport from home, and the childminder's address is within the catchment area and more than 1.5 miles (primary), 2 miles (secondary) distant from the school, transport assistance may be provided. The provision is not extended to temporary childminding. 

Pupils with medical conditions

A child attending the catchment school may have a medical condition which might prevent him or her either walking to school or travelling on existing school transport. In these circumstances special transport may be provided. NHS Lothian will then assess the child's needs and recommend what, if any, transport is required. Parents should request that their school apply to NHS Lothian on their behalf. NHS Lothian will advise if transport is required. 

When a pupil's catchment school full 

There may be instances when a child is unable to attend a catchment school because it is full. If the nearest geographical school from a child's home address is chosen and if that school is over the qualifying distances of 1.5 miles (primary) and 2 miles (secondary) transport assistance will be provided. Once a child starts the alternative school, then this becomes the adopted catchment school for transport arrangements. If the nearest geographical school is not selected then transport arrangements become the responsibility of the parent. When a P7 child transfers to a secondary school, a family's home address and its relevant catchment school is considered for transport purposes, irrespective of which primary school the child had attended.

Free permit issue 

Normally all pupils travel free on the first day at the start of the school session in August. New permits for P1 and S1 pupils are sent to their home address in the last week of the summer holidays. Permits provided by the council are hard plastic cards (similar to a credit card) and are intended to stay with pupils for their entire school life, unless they change schools or their allocated bus route is changed. The card will have an issue date on it, the pupil's name, their school and the route they have been allocated to.

Lost permit 

Pupils entitled to free school travel must be in possession of a valid bus permit in order to travel. If the bus permit is lost during the school day, then this must be reported as soon as possible to the school office for a temporary permit to be issued to allow travel home and return the next morning. On production of £2 and following completion of an application form for a replacement permit, a further temporary permit will be provided by the school until a replacement permit is printed and issued by the Public Transport Unit.

If the bus permit is lost elsewhere then the pupil will be required to pay their full fare to school and pay £2 for a temporary permit to allow free travel home. Travelling without a travel permit on a bus with the facility to take fares will result in the pupil having to pay a fare (see part iii for fare prices).

Travel outwith normal school times

Parents must ensure that children attending school clubs or participating in curricular activities make their own travel arrangements home. In these circumstances West Lothian Council will not provide a free transport service. Some schools provide their own transport for children attending activities after normal school hours. 

Grace and Favour transport

Grace and Favour is the term used for privileged travel on a school bus when a child is not entitled to free transport and spare space is available.

Seats on the vehicle may have to be given up at short notice to accommodate entitled pupils. The majority of school buses in West Lothian are able to carry a combination of pupils entitled to free travel and those paying fares.

A small number of services, mainly in very rural areas, are restricted to permit holders only and in this situation it may be possible for a grace and favour place to be offered.

Parents of West Lothian children may apply to the Public Transport Unit at the address given on this page. However allocation of Grace and Favour seats are not given until mid September to allow for any late admissions that might be entitled to free transport. 

Who does not qualify? 

  • Pupils under the qualifying distances of 1.5 miles for primary and 2 miles for secondary and where there is an adequate walking route. 
  • Pupils who attend a non catchment school.