The opportunity to pay for your child to have a seat on school buses is coming to an end in parts of West Wales as a result of changes in legislation across Wales.
For many years, pupils who did not qualify for a free bus passes to be able to use school transport to and from school have been able to pay for a seat on the same buses.
Usually kids would pay something like a £1 each way for the trip to school on these commercially operated buses and that was the bus operators that chose to provide this service to pupils on the buses that were already making their way on a direct route to the school.
Currently, pupils in Wales qualify for free home to school transport if they live two miles or further from a primary school, or three miles or further from a secondary, with a few exceptions based on certain factors.
However, new unexpected legislation brought in by Department for Transport (DfT), which will be enforced from 1st January 2020, means bus operators will no longer be able to offer seats to fare-paying passengers unless they provide full disabled access. Which means school buses must be fitted with a number of additional features to assist accessibility, including wheelchair lifts.
Most of school contracts are operated by coaches and very few coaches used on school transport services across the UK are fitted with these features as standard because usually pupils with disabilities have use of specially equipped vehicles to transport them to and from school.
These changes are affecting all local authorities in Wales and means thousands of children in West Wales will have to make alternative arrangements.
Many commercial operators have already started to withdraw paid-for services in Carmarthenshire and in Swansea parents can only pay for seat up until Christmas.
Parents are being advised to check and make alternative arrangements, including looking at public transport options to cover part or all of the journey.
If you are looking for more info on Public transport services for your area you can find this Traveline Cymru online or by calling for free on 0800 464 0000