Apply for free school transport

There is an obligation on local authorities to provide transport for children and young people who are entitled to transport from their registered home address to school and the return journey. No transport is provided to take a child home at lunchtime. 

Parents have a legal responsibility to ensure their child attends school. Work commitments are not considered in the assessment of travel support.

Parents have responsibility to ensure their children access and travel safely on the public and active travel network.

Please note the following

  • All children and young people aged 5 to 21 year of age can now travel by bus free by applying for a National Entitlement Card (NEC Card). Therefore the City of Edinburgh Council will no longer be issuing free Junior Lothian Bus Ridacards for public service buses for those who qualify for transport.
  • You must now apply for your National Entitlement Card for your child to travel for free. Details on how to apply for your NEC card are provided below.
  • Pupils who are only in school in the mornings should be collected by their parents.
  • If your child attends school as the result of a parental placing request free home to school transport is unlikely to be available.
  • Parents making a placing request to any school outwith their catchment school will not be eligible for transport support to that school.
  • Please note that Primary School children who meet the criteria for free school transport will no longer be issued with a Lothian Ridacard bus pass to travel on public service buses.  Instead, they will be expected to travel with parental support using their NEC Card.
  • The Council continues to review travel options subject to availability and eligibility throughout the academic year.
  • No transport or assistance with transport is provided for those pupils under the statutory school leaving age in attendance at further education college.
  • A child attending a nursery will not normally be provided with school transport.

School Transport can mean

  • Bus passes which children use on local bus services - This is now the National Entitlement Card (NEC Card) which you require to apply for as detailed below,
  • Dedicated school bus (service solely for pupils),
  • Taxis or private hire cars,
  • Council’s own transport,
  • Personal Travel Budget (for ASN Schools or ESB – Education Support Bases).

Eligibility Criteria

We provide transport to and from school for pupils if they are attending their catchment school and the distance of their main residence from school is over.

  • two miles for primary school,
  • three miles for secondary school.

Parents have a responsibility to ensure their children access school transport from a designated pick up point.

Please visit Google maps to check the distance between the child's home address and the school address. You will need to enter the total number of miles into the form so please keep a note of it. We also provide transport if you live within these limits and your child has a medical condition that prevents them from walking to school.

We do not consider parents' income, health or work commitments.

If you have chosen to move your child to a non-catchment school or you move out of the catchment area, you are responsible for travel arrangements.

Applications for session 2024-2025 will open on Monday 1st April 2024. Applications submitted before this date will not be accepted.

The deadline for new applications is Friday 31st May 2024. Any applications received after this date may result in delays to provision of transport as your application will be processed after all other applications submitted. Therefore we cannot guarantee that travel arrangements will be organised by the start of the new school year.

Apply for free school transport

Download guidance documents - DOCX and PDFs

If you are unable to complete the online form, then paper forms can be requested from the Travel Hub or your child’s school and then emailed or posted into the Travel Hub.

If you have been provided with a bus pass for a private contracted coach and you have lost or damaged the card, then please download the replacement bus pass form from the list of documents above. This option also comes with a charge of £10 which will need to be paid before the new pass is requested.


You must send in a new form for each school session. The forms for the next session will be available in March. You must send in your form by Friday 31st May 2024. Forms received after this date may not be processed in time for the start of the new school term.

Your child can only use school transport between their main residence and school.


Length of distance to the public transport network is not considered within the eligibility criteria. Parents are required to exercise parental responsibility to ensure children get to the public bus stop and to school.

We work out the shortest safe walking route from your house to the nearest school entrance.

Schools are required to ensure they publicise a School Travel Plan signposting active and public travel network.

If you disagree with our measurement, you can request a map from us that will show you the safe walking route that we have measured. 

Young person's free bus travel scheme

The Scottish Government has announced plans to begin or start the new Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel Scheme from 31 January 2022.

930,000 young people across Scotland will benefit the new scheme which will allow more sustainable travel behaviours from a young age.

Public bus passes will therefore no longer be provided under school transport from August 2022.

For more information on how to apply please go to our young person's free bus travel scheme page.

Travel Hub

2 Peffer Place
EH16 4BB

0131 469 2950

or email

You can find COVID-19 guidance on reducing the risks in schools on the Scottish Government website.

Home to school transport

Download guidance for parents and carers on school transport (PDF).

Travel Hub

Address: 2 Peffer Place
EH16 4BB

Telephone: 0131 469 2950