Find out about free school travel

Frequently Asked Questions for Zero Fare Bus Pass

What is the qualifying criteria that my child needs to meet to be eligible to receive a Zero Fare Bus Pass?

Pupils are entitled to free transport assistance to and from school if they meet the following criteria:

For pupils aged 5, but less than 8 years (on 1st September) attending their nearest appropriate qualifying school* or any alternative catchment school determined by the Local Authority, free transport assistance (usually a Zero Fare Bus Pass) will be provided where the distance between home and school is more than 2 miles.

Pupils aged 8-16 years (on 1st September) attending their nearest appropriate qualifying school* or any alternative catchment school determined by the Local Authority, free transport assistance (usually a Zero Fare Bus Pass) will be provided where the distance between home and school is more than 3 miles.

Pupils from low income families

Pupils entitled to Free School Meals or from families in receipt of Maximum Working Tax Credit

Pupils aged 8 to 10 years attending their nearest appropriate qualifying school* (unless an alternative  appropriate  school  has  been  determined  by  the  Local  Authority) where  the distance between home and school is more than 2 miles.

Pupils aged 11 to 16 years attending any 1 of their 3 nearest appropriate qualifying schools*, where the distance between home and school is more than 2 miles, but not more than 6 miles.

Pupils aged 11 to 16 years attending their nearest appropriate denominational (faith) school on grounds of religion or belief, where the distance between home and school is more than 2 miles but not more than 15 miles.

* The nearest appropriate qualifying school is one with places available that provides education appropriate to the age, ability and aptitude of the child.

Full details regarding qualification are contained within the current Home to School Transport Policy.

How do I apply for a free bus pass for my child to travel to school?

You will need to complete the online application form.

This form should be completed for all new applications for a Zero Fare Bus Pass, and also if you wish to renew an existing pass for a new school year.

Please be aware before you start the online application form you need to have extra information available. You will be required to upload your child’s photograph and, if applicable, low income criteria evidence eg free school meals or maximum working tax credit. Without this, you will not be able to complete the application. 

Are there any exceptions to the Policy that mean my child may be considered for a Zero Fare Bus Pass?

Exceptions to the policy can be found at Section 3.07 of the current Home to School Transport Policy.

What low income evidence do I need to provide to support my application?

To be assessed for eligibility for a zero fare bus pass under the low income criteria, your combined family income has to be below £16,190. The Local Authority will need to see relevant proof of this so please ensure that you provide at least one of the documents below to support your application:

  • A copy of the letter from the Local Authority confirming your child’s eligibility to receive free school meals.
  • A full copy of your current working tax credit awards document if you are in receipt of the Maximum level. You can compare your Award Notice yourself before submitting with the example of how we work out your tax credits, which we require to determine eligibility for your application:

How long will it take for my application to be assessed once I have completed the online application form?

It will usually take up to 28 days for you to receive an outline decision and this will be done by email. During our peak times (June – August) it may take us longer to contact you to confirm the outcome of the assessment as we are processing a higher than usual volume of applications, but we will always make contact.

My child has been assessed as qualifying so when will they receive their new Zero Fare Bus Pass?

If your child is assessed during their final year in primary school and they are due to transfer to their secondary school in September, their bus pass will be posted out during August by SYPTE.

Any qualifying applications submitted after the start of the academic year will usually be processed within 28 days. 

Once we have advised you that your application has been successful, your child’s details will be passed to SYPTE to allow them to issue the pass, as the passes are not supplied by RMBC. You will receive an email from SYPTE when they have printed and posted the bus pass to your home address.

When/where can my child use his/her Zero Fare Bus Pass?

A Zero Fare Bus Pass is valid between the home boarding point and school stated on the pass and can be used from Monday to Friday up to 7 pm. It is valid on the days when school is open in term time only.

I have received an email from SYPTE stating the bus pass has been sent to the printer but it hasn’t arrived.  Who do I contact?

If you have not received the bus pass 10 days after receiving the email from SYPTE, you should contact Traveline on 01709 515151.

My child is starting at secondary school in June/July.  When will s/he receive their Zero Fare Bus Pass?

Zero Fare Bus Passes are issued for the start of the new academic year in September.  Pupils will be able to access public transport during any transitions arranged between the primary and secondary schools, but the Local Authority will not issue a Zero Fare Bus Pass for this period. Pupils will need to obtain an ‘Under 16 Mega Travel Pass’ to allow them to travel on public transport at the concessionary fare (80p currently). If the child does not have a bus pass then they may be charged full fare. To make an application for a concessionary pass please visit:

https://www.travelsouthyorkshire.com/childpasses/#section1

Which bus will my child need to travel on when s/he transfers to secondary school?

A Zero Fare Pass is valid on any bus providing it is a school day, and your child is travelling between the boarding point and the school, which are both shown on the bus pass.  Having a Zero Fare Bus Pass does not guarantee you a place on the bus if it is full. 

Your child may also use their Zero Fare Bus Pass to travel by tram if this service is available in the area where you reside.

A Journey Planner and bus timetables are available from Travel South Yorkshire.

My child has lost his/her bus pass (had his/her bus pass stolen).  How do I get another one?

Replacement passes are only available from South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) and are not issued by the Local Authority.

To replace a lost or damaged pass there is a £7.00 replacement fee. You can make the payment by calling Traveline on 01709 515151 using your credit or debit card.

Stolen passes can be replaced free of charge if you have a Crime Reference Number from the Police.

All replacements will be posted to your home address by First Class Post.

https://www.travelsouthyorkshire.com/zerofarepass/

How long will my child’s Zero Fare Bus Pass last?

Providing that none of your family circumstances change, a Zero Fare Bus Pass will be valid for one academic year (from the start of term in September until 31st July). You will therefore need to re-apply for a renewal pass each year, until your child finishes their statutory education and completed their school Year 11 studies.

Correspondence will be sent to the email address held on our records (supplied on the original application) to remind parents/carers to reapply for a Zero Fare Bus Pass – usually during May of each year. Please remember to advise us of any changes to your email address if necessary.

Applications for a renewal pass need to be received by the deadline of 30th June each year to guarantee it being produced and posted to you in time for the new school year.

Applications received after this date are not guaranteed to be processed in time for the new school year, and your child may be asked by the driver to pay a fare to travel until the pass has been issued.

What if I move house or my child transfers to a different school during the school year, can my child still use their bus pass?

If your family moves home or your child has a mid-year school transfer, a new assessment will be required to be undertaken.

Your child may no longer be eligible for free transport assistance, and may not be able to use the bus pass they have been issued with. Please email [email protected] before your intended house move/school transfer so that we can advise further.

My child is currently issued with a free bus pass but is attending a different school on a managed move basis.  Is s/he entitled to another bus pass?

Pupils are only entitled to free transport assistance to attend their registered school base.  Parent/carers should email

[email protected] so that we can advise further.

My child sometimes travels to/from school from a different address (eg other parent/grandparents) – can this address be included on the bus pass?

Zero Fare Bus Passes are only issued for travel from the pupil’s home address which is registered by the school and confirmed on our computer system.  A pupil’s home address is regarded as the one that is in receipt of Child Benefit and based within the Rotherham borough. Dual residence or parent/carers’ work and family commitments cannot be taken into account.

The addition of an additional boarding point may be considered in exceptional circumstances, eg where the parent/carer has a medical condition/physical difficulty.

My child is attending a Rotherham school but we live/are moving to live within another authority.  Will s/he qualify for a free bus pass?

The Council’s current Home to School Transport Policy does not provide free transport assistance for pupils residing outside Rotherham Authority.  An application would need to be made to the new home authority (to whom Council Tax is paid).

Please use the link below to check which Local Authority you will need to make your application to:

https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council

My child attends a school outside Rotherham.  Does s/he qualify for a free bus pass?

A Zero Fare Bus Pass may be given to pupils who attend a school outside Rotherham Authority, but only if it is the nearest available school to the home address, beyond the statutory walking distance and is within South Yorkshire.

When my child transfers to secondary school, s/he will not be attending the catchment school as s/he has been allocated a place at a denominational school.  Will s/he qualify for a Zero Fare Bus Pass?

Pupils attending their nearest appropriate denominational (faith) school will only qualify for free transport assistance if the child is entitled to Free School Meals or is from a family in receipt of Maximum Working Tax Credit,  and where the distance between home and school is more than 2 miles but not more than 15 miles.

My child is not yet 5 years old.  Can s/he have a free bus pass?

There is no statutory duty to provide transport assistance to children under the age of 5 years. Parents/Carers are expected to accompany children under the age of 5 years to their early year’s provider and on public transport.

Currently, there is no charge for children under the age of 5 years to travel by public transport if accompanied by a parent/carer paying full fare.

My child has a disability and receives DLA/ Mobility benefits.  Will s/he qualify for a Zero Fare Bus Pass?

Even though your child may meet the qualifying criteria, it may be more beneficial to apply for a Disabled Person’s Pass which entitles the bearer to free travel at all times (and not limited to transport between home and school) on buses, trams and trains within South Yorkshire and free bus travel in all other parts of England between 9.30 am and 11 pm on weekdays and at any time during weekends and Bank Holidays. 

Details regarding other advantages and the qualification criteria can be found on the Travel South Yorkshire website.

My family has recently moved address and I’m currently in the process of applying for my child to move to a nearer school.  Can we apply for help with transport costs to attend their current school in the meantime?

Free transport assistance may only be given in accordance with the current Home to School Transport Policy and is not provided on a temporary basis. 

https://www.rotherham.gov.uk/downloads/download/213/school-transport

My child doesn’t qualify for a free bus pass.  What other travel options are there available?

Pupils who do not qualify for a Zero Fare Bus Pass can travel at the concessionary fare, but need to obtain a Mega Travel Pass via Travel South Yorkshire which proves to bus drivers, tram conductors and ticket sellers that you are entitled to:

  • travel for only 80p per single journey on all buses and trams in South Yorkshire.
  • get half price travel on all trains in South Yorkshire.

You may also be able to buy discounted 1 day, 7 day or 28 day tickets for your child which may be a more cost effective option if they have to use more than one bus to travel to school, and return each day. (Search Ticket Finder for more information, and to find the best option).

https://travelsouthyorkshire.com/en-gb/ticketsandpasses/megatravel-pass

A MyTSY account should be created in advance of applying for a Mega Travel Pass at:

https://mytsy.travelsouthyorkshire.com/signup/

Zero Fare Bus Passes may also be purchased privately from SYPTE and paid for by monthly instalments:

https://travelsouthyorkshire.com/en-gb/ticketsandpasses/zero-fare-private-purchase

Please be aware that if your child does not have any bus pass they could be asked to pay full fare. 

Can my child access a school bus without a Zero Fare Bus Pass?

Although known as “school buses” these are run commercially.  Contracts are awarded to bus companies by South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and anyone is able to access them, as long as they pay the relevant fare or show a Zero Fare Bus Pass/Mega Travel Pass if they have one.

What if I disagree with the Council’s decision not to issue a Zero Fare Bus Pass?

You have the right to appeal if you feel there are exceptional circumstances which have not been taken into consideration.  You must submit your application for appeal within 20 working days of the original decision.  A two stage appeal process will then be considered.

How do I appeal?

Once you have received notification that your application has been rejected, you may request to appeal against our decision by emailing:

[email protected]

You will then be given details of how to appeal against the assessment outcome and will need to submit this online.

My child is staying on at 6th form/moving on to study at college.  Will s/he still be entitled to a Zero Fare Bus Pass?

There is no statutory duty to provide Zero Fare Bus Passes for students aged over 16. However, full-time students may be entitled to a 16-18 Travel Pass which enables them to travel at the concessionary fare.

16-18 student passes are available from Travel South Yorkshire:

https://www.travelsouthyorkshire.com/en-gb/ticketsandpasses/16-18-passes

A MyTSY account should be created in advance of applying for a 16-18 pass at:

https://mytsy.travelsouthyorkshire.com/signup/

General Enquiries

If you have a general enquiry about assessments and applications, which is not covered above, please email our generic mailbox:

[email protected]