SCHOOL transport for under 16s is set to almost double as a council axes free transport for older teenagers from hard-up families.

The annual transport cost for Buckinghamshire schoolchildren will rise from £390 to £570 from September.

Free transport for students aged between 16 and 19 from low income families will be cut, with older students facing a five percent increase.

But school transport costs for groups of three or more siblings will be slashed by 50 percent, Buckinghamshire County Council has announced.

The changes were agreed this week following a public consultation in March in a bid to save the county council £1.5m.

BCC’s Cabinet Member for Education and Skills Cllr Mike Appleyard said: “I appreciate that any changes to our home to school transport policy, particularly the proposals to increase charging will have an impact on parents across Buckinghamshire.

“However, the stark reality is that if the cost reductions don’t come from home-to-school transport now they are likely to impact more directly on children’s education, and we still need to make substantial savings as part of the national squeeze on public sector spending.

"Reaching our decisions were not easy, but I hope we have managed to reflect the needs of the council and those of parents, carers and schools."

BCC has introduced a Direct Debit scheme to help parents spread the cost.

The council is not legally obliged to provide home-to-school transport to learners aged 16 or more or to children from low income families.

It also does not have to provide transport for children with educational needs or disabilities, or youngsters who travel to a Buckinghamshire school from another county.

Students aged between 16 and 19 in need of financial support can apply to a government bursary scheme at