Home   Education and learning   Free school transport

Free school transport

North Ayrshire Council provides free school transport when your child is enrolled in their catchment school but:

  • for primary pupils - lives 2 miles, or more, from their school by the shortest, available walking route
  • for secondary pupils - lives 3 miles, or more, from their school by the shortest, available walking route

To find your catchment school enter your postcode in YourLocation.

We may approve free school transport if circumstances meet one of the requirements of our School Transport Policy (PDF, 275kb), for example: medical suitability or transport for additional support needs.

If your child doesn't qualify, you may be able to apply for a privilege seat if there is space.

What we provide

Free school transport normally covers 1 return journey a day (at the start and end of a normal school day).

Transport can be:

  • a dedicated school bus 
  • a bus or train pass on a local service (timetabled and carrying members of the public)
  • taxi, private hire, minibus, or ferry
  • parent/carer contract - in certain circumstances, the council will support parents/carers to transport their own child(ren) to and from school with the parent/carer submitting a monthly travel expenses claim form

When and how to apply

Apply for free school transport at the following times:

  • Primary school pupils - apply at enrolment
  • Secondary school pupils - apply during transition in Primary 7 to secondary
  • changes in circumstance, for example, moving house - at least 2 weeks notice

Late applications may delay provision of free school transport.

Apply for transport

On successful completion you will receive an email with a reference number.

Parents or carers may make an application for free transport to a mainstream establishment. This is if the criteria for transport noted in the School Transport Policy is met.

If a child attends a mainstream education establishment and has additional support needs, temporary medical condition, or requires a split placement which requires transport, then this application should be submitted by the child’s education establishment.

Please note: applications for addition support needs, temporary medical conditions, or a split education placement will only be accepted from education staff on behalf of their establishment.

What happens next?

Until a decision is made, parents/carers will be responsible for making arrangements for transport of their child. We will notify you, in writing, of the outcome of your application, either:

  • 2 weeks before the start of the school year, or
  • within 2 weeks of application for mid-session applications

We may need to ask you for more information, or carry out a Suitability Assessment of the available route. These may delay the outcome.

Pick up and drop off points and times will be emailed to you by Strathclyde Passenger for Transport (SPT) only if approved and upon allocation to a contract. It is essential that you provide an active email and that you check your emails for updates.

Make sure your child is aware of the safety and acceptable behaviour terms included in the Terms and Conditions.


If required, bus passes are normally issued, through the school, at the start of the school year.

Lost passes

Contact SPT if your child has lost their bus pass. There may be a charge for a replacement.

Getting in touch

For queries on any of the above, please get in touch only using the Transport Hub contact information at the bottom of the page.

Appeal a decision

If you are unhappy about a decision, please write to:

Education Transport Panel
Communities & Education Directorate
5th Floor, Cunninghame House
KA12 8EE

Alternatively, email the Education Transport Panel.

Please note: the above email is only for appealing decisions. For general queries, please use the Transport Hub contact information at the bottom of the page.

Contract monitoring

SPT monitors school contracts and checks that drivers are performing within their Code of Conduct.

Complaints procedure

If you have concerns or complaints about the provision of free school transport, please contact your child's school. The school will email SPT to investigate. Parent/carers may complain directly to SPT in writing or by emailing School Transport at SPT.

Contact Transport Hub




01294 541600 option 3


Transport Hub, Unit 1D Byrehill Drive, Byrehill Industrial Estate, Kilwinning KA13 6HN