Published: 00:01, 07 May 2016
Daft bureaucrats have refused a Canterbury schoolboy a bus pass yet are willing to shell out thousands on taxis to a school further away.
Simon Langton pupil Louis Rorison lives in Old Wives Lees, approximately five miles from the school as the crow flies.
Yet transport bosses have rejected his application for a bus pass, claiming the Abbey School in Faversham is a shade closer by road.
Langton is technically nearer than the Abbey School and the Rorisons’ village has no direct bus link to Faversham but stubborn officials say Louis will only qualify for free transport to the Faversham school, in which case they would pay for a cab to and from class.
His furious dad has now lost an appeal against the refusal.
He said: “The situation is ludicrous. KCC will only pay for transport to our nearest school, Abbey in Faversham, but to get a bus to Faversham you would need to go via Canterbury.
“We pointed this out, and they said that in that case they would pay for private hire transport to Abbey.
“They’re completely inflexible on this.”
Traditionally, secondary pupils qualified for a bus pass if they lived three miles or more from school.
The three-mile rule remains, but from 2012 Kent County Council tweaked the criteria to allow free transport only to the nearest school by road.
While Langton is nearer as the crow flies, it is 6.8 miles by road, while Abbey in Faversham is 6.16 miles by road.
In correspondence between KCC and Mr Rorison, a county council official says: “If Louis attended the Abbey School, as it is the nearest school to your home address and more three miles, your son would be entitled for travel assistance.
“If public transport is not available from the area and a child is entitled to free school transport, arrangements would be put in place for the pupil to get to school, this is usually by hired transport.”
We contacted Cabco, a city taxi firm which has school run contracts with KCC.
It quoted an annual cost of £9,250 to chauffeur Louis to and from school in Faversham, taking into account the travel from its base in Canterbury.
A Faversham-based firm, which asked not to be named, said it would charge just under £5,000.
Mr Rorison said: “It’s a classic case of the ‘computer says no’ mentality. The decision lacks any common sense, and yet there’s flexibility.”
KCC spokesman Murray Evans says its policy is “entirely aligned with its legal obligations with regard to home-to-school transport”.
Pupils not issued with a full bus pass still had the option of applying for a Young Person’s Travel Pass (YPTP) for subsidised travel, he said.
“This family chose a school which is not their nearest and their child can access school at a discounted rate by using the YPTP,” he said.
“Kent taxpayers are already subsidising this child’s access to school at a cost of between £300-350 a year.
“The regulation committee appeals panel considered the family’s case and felt it was not unreasonable for them to contribute towards the cost of their child’s travel to school in the form of purchasing a YPTP.”
The authority did not comment on the issue of potential private hire transport to and from Faversham.