School transport costs £9m annually
IT costs Carmarthenshire County Council more than £9million to provide free school transport annually.
The Authority is currently transporting 426 primary and 5759 secondary pupils along with 474 special needs pupils, a total of 6659 pupils daily.
They travel to 45 primary schools, 19 secondary schools and 21 SEN schools or units.
Contracts are negotiated for 153 buses and 156 taxis and private hire vehicles with 39 bus companies and 66 taxi and private hire operators.
Largest number of pupils from any one school taking advantage of the free transport would be to Bro Myrddin, nearly 1,000. This is because the catchment area for the Welsh medium secondary school is greater than other schools. There are a number of small schools or units receiving transport for only one student, Like Five Roads Primary School, near Llanelli.
County executive board member for transport services Cllr Philip Hughes said: “I have asked people how much they think school transport costs the county and they have varied from £50,000 to £200,000. The staggering reality is that it is £9million-plus.
“It might put into perspective the need for firmness over enforcing the distance to school qualification for some of the pupils and their eligibility for free school transport.
“We have a hard working team running this massive logistical and successful operation throughout the school year with vehicles clocking up many millions of miles on school runs.”
The above figures do not include college provision, which currently stands at nearly 2,500 students. It is complicated to include these in the figure as many of these are not eligible for transport in accordance with council policy and whilst they are travelling on school transport vehicles they do not count towards the total cost as the costs are reclaimed.
If all college students are counted then the total number of clients we provide for is more than 9,000