1. Home
  2. Education and learning
  3. Going to school
  4. School transport
  5. Replacement passes and vacant seats
  6. Information about buying a vacant seat on school transport

Information about buying a vacant seat on school transport

1. Overview


Who can apply?

You can apply for a seat on school transport if your child:

  • does not receive free school transport and
  • does not have access to an alternate public transport route

We can only give vacant seats on our existing vehicles. This means we may not be able to offer a seat to everyone.

Before applying, find out:


Which schools have contracted vehicles?

Primary schools

  • Alfriston School
  • Burwash C E Primary School
  • Dallington CE School
  • Firle Primary School
  • Laughton Community Primary School
  • Little Horsted C of E Primary
  • Ninfield C of E Primary School
  • Rye Community Primary School
  • St Peter’s C of E Primary School (Chailey)

Also see: Primary school coach timetables

Secondary schools

  • Beacon Academy
  • Chailey School
  • Claverham Community College
  • Heathfield Community College
  • King’s Academy Ringmer
  • Robertsbridge Community College
  • Uckfield Community Technology College
  • Uplands Community College

Also see: Secondary school coach timetables


How much does it cost?

Prices from September 2022

  • Primary school children: £85 per term (6 terms per year), extra children from the same family are £63.75 per term
  • Secondary school and sixth form children: £170 per term (6 terms per year), extra children from the same family are £127.50 per term

Terms and conditions of the scheme

Availability of seats

  • we cannot guarantee there will always be vacant seats on our vehicles
  • due to legislative constraints we are only able to offer a maximum of 20% of a vehicles capacity as vacant seats. Your request may be declined if the number of vacant seats on the service exceeds this.
  • you will need to re-apply for a vacant seat space each school year

New school year allocation

  • applications for a new school year in September should only be made once the previous school year is over
  • for a new school year seats are usually allocated at the end of October. This is to ensure that all children who are authorised for free home to school transport have seats first
  • we suggest that you always plan alternate arrangements for the first half term of any school year

Priority for seats

  • Children who qualify for free transport have priority.
  • Available seats can be reduced if they are needed for qualifying children, services can also be removed or vehicle size reduced. If this happens, you must make alternative arrangements. The County Council cannot help arrange, or pay for these.
  • If there are more applications than seats, we use this order of priority:
    • Students attending their designated school or sixth form* – those furthest from the school or sixth form have priority.
    • Students not attending their designated school or sixth form* – those living nearest to the school or sixth form have priority.
    • Date of application – We will prioritise based on date of application, lowest priority will be applied to applications after the start of term.

* Your designated school is the one suitable for your child that serves your area. If there’s more than one, it’s the nearest suitable school to your home with a place available.

Conditions of travel

  • the timetabled stops on the vehicle will not be altered for a vacant seat collection
  • timetabled stop locations and times may change during the academic year
  • Students should arrive at their pick up point in time. The vehicle will not normally be able to wait
  • Students without a valid permit may not be able to travel. Defaced or misused permits may be confiscated
  • Occasionally, the vehicle may be delayed due to traffic conditions. Students should wait for up to 20 minutes for the vehicle to arrive. They need be prepared for the weather conditions
  • we expect students to behave appropriately when travelling
  • County Council officers monitor vehicles at random throughout the year
  • even though your child has a travel permit, it’s still your responsibility to get your child to school

Payment for travel

  • You pay in advance each term, for at least one term. We shall send your permit as soon as possible after we receive payment.
  • We will send requests for future payments when they are due.

Please note: - We cannot send new permits until you pay for the next term (and any debts). If you pay late, your permit will be late and your child won’t be able to travel.

Reductions and refunds

  • There’s a reduction for other children travelling in the same family, if one child is paying the full rate. We will refund you if we need to withdraw your permit.
  • There’s no reduction or refund for:
    • students who travel for only part of the term, unless they join or permanently leave the scheme
    • exceptional circumstances like bad weather or vehicle breakdown
    • students absent from school on a temporary basis

Lost or damaged permits

  • it costs £10 to replace a permit
  • you can pay with a credit or debit card. We cannot accept cash or cheques

Request a seat on a vehicle

Please read our response times and then click the link below to request a seat:

Our response times

If your enquiry is for the:

  • existing school year and is received after November of that year responses will take up to 10 working days.
  • new school year in September you need to understand that:
    • applications for seats should only be made once the previous school year is over.
    • requests will take longer and a place on the vacant seat scheme cannot be guaranteed.
    • seats are usually allocated at the end of October. This is to ensure that all children who are authorised for free home to school transport have seats first.
    • you should always plan alternate arrangements for the first half term of any school year.

Pay for a travel pass or seat

If we’ve sent you an email invoice to pay for a travel pass or vacant seat online please pay using the link in the email.

You can read the below guide if you need any help with paying online:


Let us know about a change

Email the Transport Hub to tell us about:

  • a change of address or school
  • an issue with payment

Email: Mainstream Transport team (contact form)

Do not use this to apply or pay for a vacant seat.

If you no longer need school transport

Tell us straight away and return the permit so we can help another child who needs a seat. We’ll refund you from the date we receive your unwanted permit.