Free travel for Birmingham faith school pupils could be scrapped in the biggest overhaul of school transport in the city for 25 years.
Birmingham City Council has unveiled proposals to phase out free travel for 1,000 faith school pupils from September 2013.
Other proposals include charging for bus passes for some students older than 16, meaning some families could face forking out up to £600 per year for travel.
The council currently provides free home to school transport for 4,000 city pupils, and funds bus passes for a further 2,600 youngsters.
The bulk of the authority’s £17 million home-to-school transport budget pays for minibus hire, private hire and supervision for disabled and special needs pupils.
The authority said it will focus on a direct service for disabled children and those with mobility problems. It will also be working with schools and families to encourage independent travel to schools for some pupils.
The announcement follows a three-month public consultation in what would be the first changes to the council’s school travel policy since 1989.
Chris Glynn, head of commissioning for Birmingham’s Children, Young People and Families directorate, said the proposals would help the authority to concentrate on "those most in need".
He said: "While there are 980 children who are getting support at the moment to attend faith schools, we are suggesting giving people a year’s notice before any proposed changes.
"We have listened to parents and a large number of parents have said they would be prepared to pay for services. This is about reinforcing the services that are provided to disabled children and their parents, which they say are really key to their lives."
The council is also considering raising the qualifying distance from school before free bus passes are supplied to two miles for under-eights and three miles for older children.
At present children aged seven and under need to be more than a mile from the school gates and those up to 11 need only be a mile-and-a-half. Free transport for faith schools is a discretionary service and the council is the latest local authority in the West Midlands to propose scrapping it for youngsters.
Wolverhampton, Dudley, Worcestershire and Staffordshire do not provide assist-
ance to faith school pupils. There is also no legal requirement for the authority to fund travel for post-16 students.
The council said it hoped to recoup about 25 per cent of its costs for post-16 pupils by charging up to £600 per year for working families and £300 on those on lower incomes.
The second consultation has now been launched for parents and schools to give their views to the council, and closes on July 14.
Details at www.birmingham.gov.uk/transport-consultation.