Scottish Borders Council improves school transport

Monday July 3rd 2023

Scottish-Borders-Council


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Paul Kelly

School transport in the Borders has picked up speed after the implementation of a series of improvements.

The improvements follow a review by Scottish Borders Council which has also helped deliver financial and climate benefits.

The review found that school transport vehicles were operating at around 80 per cent capacity, with over 600 vacant seats.

A full review of the school transport network, arrangements for the allocation of places and the transport planning system was undertaken, with changes gradually implemented since then.

This has included the implementation of an online application system which has helped to determine with more accuracy, the number of school transport places required.

Additionally, software was used to establish the optimal number of vehicles needed, which has allowed the council to remove 26 school transport contracts from the network. This has resulted in a significant reduction in the school transport carbon footprint and delivered a cost avoidance of £700,000 a year.

Further measures to streamline the process have included:

– Ordering bus passes through an external printer, saving staff time

– Distributing passes during the summer term, reducing parent concern as they were previously issued during summer holidays

– Assessing walking routes to verify entitlement for school transport

– Improved collating and sharing of information between departments to enable more efficient planning

– Improvements to the arrangements for communicating with parents about school transport

Councillor Jenny Linehan, executive member for Environment and Transport, said: “It is great to see so many improvements taking place within school transport, which will deliver better services for pupils and parents. I know this will be a relief to many parents and pupils. I am delighted that we’ve managed to achieve this whilst also reducing our carbon emissions and costs.

“Staff across a range of departments have worked closely together and incredibly hard to make these results possible, ensuring we have as streamlined a service as possible. This has also been a great example of the effective use of data and digital solutions to make positive changes.”

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