School transport assistance
Information on school transport assistance, including eligibility criteria, conveyance allowances and transfer of eligibility.
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- Eligibility criteria for school transport assistance
- Conveyance allowances
- Applying for conveyance allowance
- Transfer of eligibility
- Ineligible students
- Transport eligibility zone
- More information
The Ministry provides school transport assistance to help students overcome barriers to education and to help caregivers meet their responsibility to get their children to school.
- We may provide assistance where distance or a lack of suitable public transport present a barrier for students attending the closest school where they can enrol.
- To get school transport assistance, students must meet the eligibility criteria.
- School transport assistance is usually provided through a place on a school bus. Some students may be eligible for a conveyance allowance to contribute to the cost of transporting them to school.
Our Specialised School Transport Assistance (SESTA) page has more information about school transport assistance for children and young people with safety and/or mobility needs.
Transcript: School transport assistance video
Caregivers are primarily responsible for getting their children to school, but for some students, where distance is a barrier to getting to school or kura, transport assistance may be available.
Most school buses are managed by the Ministry of Education, but some schools are funded to organise their own transport services.
Some local councils also run school buses in urban areas.
For Ministry-funded services, transport assistance can be either:
- A place on a school bus
- an allowance to contribute towards the cost of travel to school or the nearest bus pick-up or drop-off, or
- assistance for students with complex safety or mobility needs.
Three eligibility criteria make sure school transport assistance is provided to the students who need it most.
Students must meet all three eligibility criteria to get school transport assistance.
- The school is the closest state or state-integrated school the student can enrol at.
- The student lives more than a certain distance from the school.
- For Year 1 to 8 students this is at least 3.2 kilometres from the school.
- For Year 9 to 13 students this is at least 4.8 kilometres from the school.
- There are no public transport options available.
School bus routes fall within the Transport Eligibility Zone of the schools they service.
The boundaries of these zones are set at the halfway point between neighbouring schools of the same type, for example, between two secondary schools.
School enrolment zones, on the other hand, are geographically defined areas around schools to prevent them from becoming overcrowded.
The design of the bus route takes into consideration:
- The location of eligible students, and
- where the safest stops are on the route.
If you’d like to know more about school transport assistance, visit the Ministry of Education website or speak to your school’s Bus Controller.
Students must meet all 3 eligibility criteria:
|1. The school must be the closest state or state-integrated school where the student can enrol||
Please note: students enrolled at a boarding hostel are not eligible for school transport assistance. See boarding allowance page for more information.
2. Students must live more than a certain distance from the school
3. There must be no suitable public transport
Suitable public transport must travel within:
If a suitable public transport option becomes available, the Ministry will give affected schools at least 1 full term’s notice of the change, and schools are responsible for informing the caregivers of students.
Schools are responsible for determining whether students are eligible for school transport assistance. An application is not required for a place on a school bus.
Caregivers should speak to their school’s bus controller or another staff member to confirm their child’s eligibility and find out what school transport options are available.
Check out our factsheet for more information.
A conveyance allowance is a contribution to the cost of transporting students to school or to their nearest school bus route. It is not intended to be a full reimbursement of the transport cost.
There are 3 types of conveyance allowance:
- Daily school bus conveyance allowance
- Specialised School Transport Assistance (SESTA) conveyance allowance
- Technology school conveyance allowance
Daily school bus conveyance allowance
Students may be eligible for a daily school bus conveyance allowance if they meet all three transport assistance criteria and:
- there is no school bus available, or
- they live more than 2.4 kilometres from the nearest school bus route.
Daily payment amount
The daily school bus conveyance allowance payment amount is based on 2 factors:
- How many children are eligible in each family.
- The distance from home to either the school or to the nearest school bus route.
The conveyance allowance is paid at the end of each quarter, after the Ministry has received the enrolment report from the school for that term. The payment dates will vary as conveyance allowance is not paid on fixed dates.
- The number of school days each quarter may differ which means the amount received each quarter will also differ.
- Caregivers do not have to reapply each year for conveyance allowance. Payments will continue until there is a change in circumstances, such as: change in residential address, change in enrolled school, change in banking information. Please notify us as soon as there is a change in your student’s circumstances.
SESTA conveyance allowance
If a student is eligible for SESTA but is not provided with a place on a vehicle, the Ministry will provide a conveyance allowance to contribute to the cost of transporting the student to school. Caregivers can also elect to receive a conveyance allowance as an alternative to a place on a vehicle.
The SESTA conveyance allowance is $0.27 per km to a maximum of $20 per school day, per student. If more than one student from the same family is eligible for the SESTA conveyance allowance, and is attending the same school, the maximum payment is $20 per school day.
The SESTA conveyance allowance is paid at the end of each month, after the Ministry has received the attendance report from the school. The payment dates will vary as the SESTA conveyance allowance is not paid on a fixed date.
Technology school conveyance allowance
Where schools are not able to offer technology classes, the Ministry may provide school buses to transport students to and from the closest technology provider where classes are offered.
Applications for a daily school bus conveyance allowance and for a SESTA conveyance allowance for eligible students should be completed by the caregiver and the school.
- Caregivers can start the online application on Pokapū Waka Kura | School Transport Hub without having to log in.
- Once the caregiver submits their application, the enrolling school is notified via email. They use their ESL (Education Sector Login) to log into Pokapū Waka Kura to view the application and complete their section, before the application is submitted to the Ministry.
Alternatively, schools can complete the application on behalf of/with the caregiver.
Start an application
Note: your school’s ESL delegated authoriser (DA) must add the Pokapū Waka Kura school user role to your ESL before you can access Pokapū Waka Kura.
- Click on this link: Pokapū Waka Kura | School Transport Hub(external link). Note: Pokapū Waka Kura works best with the Chrome internet brower.
- Once on the login page, click on the ‘Log in with ESL’ link which is directly under the Salesforce login.
- Log into Pokapū Waka Kura using your ESL details.
Parents and caregivers:
If a student who is eligible for Ministry-funded transport assistance to their closest school decides to attend a school that is further away, they may still be able to access a place on a school bus within their chosen school’s transport eligibility zone (TEZ). Caregivers are not entitled to a conveyance allowance in this situation.
In these cases, the Ministry uses its eligibility criteria again to see if your child qualifies for assistance. Your child will be assessed based on the distance between the chosen school and its TEZ boundary.
Your child’s school will let you know if your child qualifies for transport assistance.
Please note that parents or caregivers are responsible for transporting their child to the pick-up/drop-off bus stop within their chosen school’s TEZ. This bus stop must be an existing school bus stop.
Check out our factsheet for more information.
In some situations, students who aren’t eligible for school transport assistance may be able to access a Ministry-funded school bus service at the discretion of the transport provider.
This is a private arrangement between transport providers and caregivers. We cannot require any provider to carry ineligible students.
Transport providers can only carry ineligible students if:
- no eligible students are disadvantaged, and all students (both eligible and ineligible) are seated
- prior written consent has been obtained from any schools that are being bypassed by the ineligible student
- the vehicle does not deviate from the contracted route to pick up ineligible students
- the ineligible students and their caregivers are advised of the conditions of transportation and acknowledge these conditions in writing.
The transport provider may charge ineligible students a fare. The provider determines the amount and method of payment.
A transport eligibility zone (TEZ) is used to determine what is the closest school for students.
Ministry-funded school bus routes are designed to run within a TEZ. Most boundaries are set at the halfway point (by road) between schools of the same type, for example, between state secondary schools. If a school has students that range between Years 1-13, then they may have multiple TEZs (as different year levels have different distance criteria to meet and there may be different types of schools in the area).
The difference between an enrolment zone and a transport eligibility zone is in how the boundaries of the two zones is set. School enrolment zones are geographically defined areas around schools. They are designed to prevent schools from becoming overcrowded.
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