FUNDING for 15 school bus services for hundreds of pupils could be cut in the Vale.

The council is set to consult on plans to withdraw funding for fare-paying school bus services – which mainly serve schools in Barry and Penarth, with a few serving the rural Vale.

More than 300 pupils who are ineligible for free transport are estimated to use fare-paying services.

But free school transport will still be provided to eligible pupils who use the services, the council said.

Talks between the council and the current operators have identified just three services out of the 15 which could be commercially viable with fare increases.

Fare-paying school bus services are provided to cater for pupils who live closer than the qualifying distance for free school transport.

The Welsh Government says free school transport has to be offered to primary aged pupils who live two miles or more from their local school and secondary aged pupils who live three miles or more from their catchment area school.

This year the council subsidised fare paying school transport services by more than £180,000.

If the funding for these services is withdrawn, £57,000 of the money saved would go towards providing free transport to eligible pupils who used them.

It comes as the council looks to cut £3.7million across its service areas in 2019/20 due to budget pressures.

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If the council goes ahead with the plans the funding for these services would be withdrawn from July 31, 2019 – after a re-tendering of all school services in April and May.

The council held preliminary talks with operators to see which services would be likely to be commercially viable with an increase in fares – probably from £1 and £2 to £2 and £3 for a single and return journey.

Three services were considered potentially viable – the S10 for Pencoedtre High School, Whitmore High School and Ysgol Bro Morgannwg, the S14 for Pencoedtre High and Whitmore High Schools and S49 for St Richard Gwyn RC High School.

The council’s cabinet consider consultation plans on February 18.