Free travel to and from school

Who is entitled?

Your child may be able to get free transport to school, depending on how far the walk is.

As a guide, your child could get free transport to school if they attend the nearest (measured by walking distance, not in a straight line) suitable school and the distance from home is:

  • Two miles or more if your child is under eight years old
  • Three miles or more if they are aged eight to 16

If you get the maximum Working Tax Credit or your children are entitled to free school meals, they could get free school transport if they:

  • Are over eight years old, attend the nearest suitable primary school and the distance from home is two miles or more
  • Are in years 7 to 11 of secondary school, they attend one of their three nearest secondary schools and the distance to school is between two and six miles
  • Attend a school other than the nearest school on the grounds of religion or belief if the school attended is the nearest of your religion and the distance is between two and 15 miles

Entitlement to free travel under this policy ends at the end of year 11 in secondary school.

The type of transport provided is at the county council’s discretion. Normally pupils are sent a travelpass which allows them free travel on a bus or train. In exceptional circumstances, a taxi may be provided.

If your child qualifies for free transport but travels by bicycle, you can claim an allowance.

In exceptional circumstances a car mileage allowance may be paid.

Special cases of payment

In some circumstances pupils with special educational needs (SEN) who do not meet the above mileage limit, may be eligible for transport as a result of their special educational needs.

Denominational Education

In areas served by Church of England or Catholic schools, reasons for choosing a denominational school will be taken into account when the county council determines which is the nearest suitable school for travel expenses purposes, provided the pupil has been admitted to the school on denominational grounds, and has the same faith of the school attended.

If your child started school after September 2011, and you are not a low income family (for example, you get the maximum Working Tax Credit or your children are entitled to free school meals), you will need to make an annual contribution towards the cost of travel if this is not your nearest school and the distance criterion is met.

For the 2014/15 academic year the contributory charge was £475, from September 2015 it will be £505. The charge will increase annually by 5% plus whatever the annual percentage increase is in the Retail Price Index.

Moving house

If you are a low income family and you move house within Lancashire while your child is in their final year of primary education (year 6) or the final two years of secondary education (years 10 and 11), you could get travel expenses so they can stay at the same school, providing:

  • the new address is two miles or more from the school
  • the travelling time is not excessive
  • they previously attended their nearest school

Other Special Cases

Other special arrangements may be made for other special circumstances for example medical or social difficulties or unsuitable journeys for pupils, please contact the area education office for advice.

This is only a summary of the county council’s policy for assistance with school transport, it is intended to act as a guide for parents and is not a definitive statement of policy. Please see the full policy or ring the school traveline on 0300 123 6738 for advice.

When to apply

If your child is new to primary or secondary school or new to the area you should apply as soon as you know which school your child will attend.

Once your application is granted, you do not need to reapply each year unless your child is starting secondary school (see how to apply). If you are still entitled your new pass will be sent out at the end of July. If your child is transferring from primary to secondary school we will send you an application form (usually in May) if we think your child is eligible. If you have not received your form by 31 May and think you may be entitled then please contact the School Traveline on 0300 123 6738.

If your application is granted by the area education office, you should expect to receive the pass on the following dates:

  • If received by 30 June passes sent out by 1 August
  • If received by 31 July passes sent out by 12 August
  • If received during August passes will be sent within 20 working days of receipt

If your application is received after 10 August we cannot guarantee that we will be able to issue a pass by the start of the new term.

Outside of these dates passes will normally be issued within ten working days from the date your application has been granted.

We recommend that you apply for your child’s travel pass in plenty of time before the start of the school year. If you don’t, you may have to pay your child’s travel fares and we may not be able to refund this money. We will only refund any travel fares you have to pay while you are waiting for your child’s travel pass if we have caused the delay.

How to apply

The first time you apply or if your child is new to secondary school you will need to complete the application form below, forms are also available from your local area education office.

You will need to provide a passport type photograph in Year 7 (first year) for secondary school pupils.

We will contact you if:

  • Your child is attending a faith school and you are paying the denominational charge – we will contact you around 7 May to confirm you are willing to pay the charge.
  • Your child gets free transport on the grounds that they get free school meals – we will let you know if you no longer qualify before your pass is due to be sent out (around 22 July)
  • You get the maximum amount of working tax credit and this is the grounds for your child getting free transport – we will contact you on or around 10 June each year to confirm you are still eligible

Please contact us if your circumstances change, you change address or your child changes school.

Lost travel passes

If you lose your travel pass you will need to contact the School Traveline:

It will cost £20 to replace a pass, you can pay by credit/debit card by calling 01772 530432, or by cheque made payable to Lancashire County Council.

You will need to pay for fares until you get your replacement travelpass. These will not be reimbursed unless your child receives free school meals, or you receive the maximum amount of Working Tax Credit.

Refund of travel costs

In certain exceptional circumstances refunds can be claimed to cover costs of travel/fares paid while waiting for a travelpass, normally where the delay is caused by the council.

To apply, you should complete the refund of home to school travel costs claim form (PDF, 34KB), (also available from the area education office).

Post-16 student support

A student may be entitled to help with travel if they have significant learning or medical difficulties. See the special education needs transport section for more information.

Further education colleges may also be able to provide additional support to their students. This will depend on the policy of the individual college and your circumstances. Please contact your local college’s Student Services or Finance Department for further details.


If your application for home to school transport has been refused and you feel that you have some exceptional mitigating circumstances which you believe should have been taken into account when you submitted your application, then you have the option to submit a written appeal to the Student Support Appeals Committee.

This committee of elected members meets approximately every six weeks to consider the appeals.  If you wish to submit your appeal you can download an appeal form or request one from your local area education office.

You should submit your completed form to the address on the application with any supporting evidence you can provide.

When we get your application we will write to you to let you know the likely date of your appeal hearing.

The council will advise you why they have not been able to award travelling expenses and provide you with their comments in an appeal schedule on your case which you can consider before the appeal is formally submitted to the committee. You need to ensure that your appeal schedule is signed and returned to the council at least ten days before the appeal hearing is due to take place in order for it to be heard on that date.

Once your appeal has been heard we will write to you to let you know the outcome of the appeal.

Should your appeal not be accepted then there is no further right of appeal unless you are able to provide any new evidence which was not originally provided for the committee.

Not entitled to free transport

If your child is not entitled to free transport then they can still travel on most contracted school buses/taxis provided by the county council. You can pay a daily fare to the driver or if you want to save money you can buy a season ticket.


Area education offices

For questions about the Home to School Transport Policy, application forms, appeals and applying for a travel pass contact your local area education office.

School transport enquiry line

For season tickets, lost travelpasses, change of address or change of school.

Tel: 0300 123 6738
Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

Bus and rail enquiries

You can find information about bus routes, stops and timetables in the public transport section.

You can also call Traveline on 0871 200 22 33. Lines are open 7 days a week, calls cost 12p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.