CHESHIRE West and Chester Council wants to up the cost of school bus services by £200 a year for some pupils.

The authority is proposing to increase ‘spare seat’ charges for students travelling on education contract buses from September this year.

Spare seat places are made available to pupils who are not entitled to free school transport on a first-come-first-served basis, providing there are no other bus services covering the same route.

Under the proposals, the annual charge for pupils under 16 travelling in their catchment area will increase from £265 to £375, while those travelling outside of their catchment area will have to pay £500 rather than £390.

Pupils over 16 travelling in their catchment area would have to pay £700 a year rather £500, while those travelling outside their catchment area would pay £740.

A public consultation period giving people the chance to have their say over the proposal will run until Thursday, May 10.

Gerald Meehan, the council’s director of children and young people’s services, said the proposed increase stems from recent changes to its Home to School Transport Policy.

In a consultation document he says: “The current spare seat charges would allow pupils travelling in spare seat places to travel more cheaply than those eligible for denominational transport or eligible to receive assisted transport under the post-16 policy from September 2012.

“The proposed new spare seat charges will continue to represent good value for parents, as they are still significantly lower than the average cost per seat to the local authority of education contract buses, and are lower than the current average costs of using equivalent local bus services.

“Revising the current spare seat charges for pupils under and over 16 will therefore ensure a fair and consistent policy in the future, which is affordable within the local authority’s budgetary constraints.”

You can complete an online feedback form by visiting For details call 0300 123 7032.