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

To find your school catchment area, enter your postcode in YourLocation.

We may approve free school transport if circumstances meet one of the requirements of our School Transport Policy (PDF, 175kb). 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 clam form

When and how to apply

Submit applications at the following times: 

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

Late applications can delay provision of free school transport.

Please read our School Transport Policy (PDF, 175kb)

All school transport applications should be submitted using North Ayrshire Council’s transport system. Please ensure you select all mandatory fields marked with an asterisk (*). 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 if the criteria for transport noted in the transport policy (PDF, 175kb) is met. If a child attends a mainstream education establishment and has an ASN, 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 that applications for ASN, 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 for more information, or carry out a Road Suitability Assessment which could delay the outcome. 

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

Please make sure that your child is aware of the safety and acceptable behaviour terms. These are included in the Terms and Conditions of free school transport provision.


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.

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, you can email educationtransportpanel@north-ayrshire.gov.uk.

Contract monitoring

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

Complaints procedure

If you have any concerns or complaints about the provision of free school transport, please contact your child's school. A complaints email will be completed by the school and sent to SPT to investigate. Parent/carers may also complain directly to SPT in writing or by emailing SPT at school.transport@spt.co.uk.

Contact Transport Hub




01294 541613


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

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