Vacant Seat Payment scheme

Vacant seat update - 20 October 2021

Worcestershire County Council are currently reviewing its Vacant Seats scheme in light of recently published guidance on the impact of Passenger Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR) on Home to School Transport, and changes to Local Authority exemptions.

We are experiencing a higher than normal increase in applications for Home to School transport which means we are unable to confirm all offers of Vacant Seats until after October half term. Parents of non-eligible children wishing to take advantage of any discretionary places will be placed on the waiting list and parents are advised to make their own suitable travel arrangements for the start of the new academic year. Once availability is confirmed the Transport Team will contact parents.

You will be able to check the status of your application using the tracker which can be accessed via our web pages. If you have not heard anything regarding your application by 1 November 2021, please contact the Hub on 01905 765 765.

What is a Vacant Seat

If you are not eligible for free under 16 travel assistance or over 16 travel assistance, we may be able to offer you the option to buy a Vacant Seat.

  • offers the option to buy a spare seat on existing Worcestershire County Council school contract vehicles
  • they will only be offered for existing routes and from existing boarding points
  • we cannot guarantee that the seat will always be available each year, or for the whole of an academic year, in case the seat is required for an eligible ride
  • you should not rely on the service and should have alternative travel options available
  • a contribution is required for all Vacant Seats – transport will be ceased if no payment is received

How and when are Vacant Seats allocated

  • Vacant Seats can only be awarded once all eligible riders have been allocated their seat
  • they will not be allocated until the beginning of September and cannot be guaranteed to be offered before the start of term
  • contracts are linked to specific schools although it may be possible to utilise a vehicle if the route is close to another school – however, we cannot accept responsibility for transporting the child if the school the contract serves is closed
  • applications on the Vacant Seat Payment Scheme waiting list are ranked according to the priority order of criteria, and not on a first-come first-served basis:
     
    1. Resident in County
    2. Previously used the service (and had a Vacant Seat withdrawn)
    3. Siblings already travelling on the service
    4. Attendance at designated school
    5. Availability of alternative public transport services
    6. Attending the nearest establishment
    7. Living over 3 miles from the establishment (but not the designated establishment)
    8. Date of application (date of application is only considered if all other criteria are equal)
       
    • no commitment is given to provide students under the scheme with continuous transport assistance as priority is given to eligible students requiring transport on specific services
    • if spaces on a contracted coach or taxi service are required for eligible students then vacant seats will be withdrawn
    • the decision to withdraw a Vacant Seat will normally be based on the last seat allocated being the first to be withdrawn; the Authority will provide a minimum of 7 days notice in writing of its intention to withdraw a Vacant Seat and a pro rata refund can be made

Paying for your Vacant Seat

Please be aware we are currently reviewing transport costs for 2020 to 2021 and these pages will be updated as soon as the new costs are known.

You can pay for your Vacant Seat online, either annually, termly, half termly or by 9 monthly Direct Debit payments and a payment letter will be sent to you with details of how to make the payment. Please do not make payment unless you have received this letter.

Pass term Cost
Annual £547
Termly £192
Half termly £101
Direct Debit £64 per month

What happens if there is no Vacant Seat available

  • if all appropriate vehicles are full, you will be placed on a waiting list and if space becomes available we will contact you
  • we will also consider if we can offer you a seat under the Severn Card scheme
  • if we have to withdraw the seat we will write to advise, giving 2 week's notice, we will refund any unused contribution and you will be placed on the waiting list

Apply for travel assistance