Making a request
Travel assistance is provided to children who attend their designated transport area or nearest school and live more than the statutory walking distance from that school. The statutory walking distance is 2 miles for children aged under eight years old and 3 miles for children aged eight years old and over. If you live within the statutory walking distance of the school, it is your parental responsibility to make sure your child attends school.
We measure the shortest available walking route from a child’s home address to school and use this measurement to assess each child’s eligibility for school transport. The measured statutory walking distance must be a route, which a child accompanied as necessary, can walk with reasonable safety to school.
If you feel the shortest available walking route between your home or the bus pick up point and your designated transport area or nearest school is unsuitable, you have the right to request that the route is assessed.
We will contact to you to confirm we have received your application, with the date by which you will be notified of the outcome. The process is quite lengthy and it can take up to 8 weeks for you to be informed of the outcome of your route assessment.
What happens next
When we receive a request to carry out a route assessment, a road safety auditor from the Highways department will walk the route from your home address or bus pick up point to the school. If you specify a section of the route to be unsuitable, then just that section will be assessed.
We always assess the route on a school day and at the same time as if you were walking to or from school for the start or end of the normal school day. This way we get an accurate idea of the nature of the road. We also get statistical data, including road traffic accidents or fatalities, to get a full understanding of the route.
If the road safety auditor finds that a section of the route is considered unsuitable, it can no longer be included as part of the statutory walking distance measurement.
If the road safety auditor finds that it is suitable we will write to you with a copy of their report.
If there is an alternative route to school avoiding the unsuitable section that is within the statutory walking distance, we will tell you and your child will not be eligible for travel assistance.
If there is no alternative walking route which avoids the unsuitable section, your child will be eligible for travel assistance.
If you request a route to be assessed, which has previously been walked and judged to be suitable, we will not re-assess it unless there has been a significant change to the route.
How routes are assessed
Walking routes are assessed against the following criteria:
- That the child will be accompanied
- Road width, visibility and the severity of bends
- Existence of ‘safe refuge’ – this means footpaths and verges, road markings at the side of the road
- The volume of traffic at the relevant time of day
- The type of traffic and its speed
- Difficulty of road crossings
- Nature of road (urban or rural) and driver expectation
- The presence or absence of speed limits and other warning signs
- The accident record along the route
We take into account a range of factors, the fact that there is a high volume of fast-moving traffic is not in itself a reason to assess a route as unsuitable – there may be a footpath and good crossing points along the route that would mean it is safe.
Similarly, the lack of a footpath or verge would not be a reason to assess a route as unsuitable if there was, for instance, a very low volume of traffic and good visibility.
We do not take the following into account:
- Your individual circumstances, for instance your personal availability to walk with your child or the fact that younger children or prams may impede you
- Parental finances
- Local weather conditions
- Unusual events – such as, road closures, construction work, flooding
- Lack of street lighting – the majority of roads in Somerset do not have streetlights and lighting is not an issue all year round
- Lack of pavements – the lack of a paved footpath is not necessarily a reason to assess a route as unsuitable.
- The presence of uncut hedges
- Difficult terrain and arduousness of the route – steep hills are not a hazard
- Practicality or the time taken to walk the route
If you wish to appeal against the decision that the route is suitable to walk accompanied as necessary, details of how to do this will be included in your outcome letter.