Plans to cut funding to 15 school bus services in the Vale of Glamorgan will be put before the public.

A consultation has been launched on withdrawing funding for the Vale’s fare-paying school bus services as the council plans spending cuts.

The bus services, which are used by about 400 pupils, mainly serve schools in Barry and Penarth with a few serving rural areas of the Vale.

Vale of Glamorgan Council says free school transport will still be provided to pupils who live far enough away from their school to be entitled to it.

But there are more than 300 pupils who are not entitled to free transport that pay to use the fare-paying services and would have to find another way to get to school if the routes are withdrawn.

Operators would be able to run the bus routes on a commercial basis – but they have indicated there could be a rise in fares.

The services which would be affected are:

351 – St Athan Primary School

P122 – Llangan Primary School

P125 – Ysgol Sant Curig & Ysgol Sant Baruc

P132 –  Ysgol Pen Y Garth

P133 –  St Josephs R/C Primary School

P135 –  St Andrews Major C/W Primary School

P138 –  St Illtyd Primary School

P139 –  Ysgol Pen Y Garth

P97 –  Llansannor C/W Primary School

S10 –  Pencoedtre & Whitmore High School / Ysgol Bro Morgannwg

S14 – Pencoedtre & Whitmore High School

S2 – Whitmore High School & Ysgol Bro Morgannwg

S49 – St Richard Gwyn R/C Secondary Schoool

S51 –  St Richard Gwyn R/C Secondary School

S53 –  St Richard Gwyn R/C Secondary School

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

Vale of Glamorgan Council says the proposed funding cuts would not affect pupils eligible for free transport services, or children with additional learning needs eligible for free transport.

A statement on the council’s website says: “The Vale of Glamorgan Council will continue to provide statutory free school transport to those pupils who qualify on distance/unavailable walking route grounds who are currently allocated to a fare-paying school transport service.

“If the fare-paying element is removed it may mean pupils who are eligible for free school transport will be collected in smaller vehicles.”

Surveys taken in the 2017 to 2018 academic year showed 324 pupils who do not qualify for free transport pay to use these fare-paying school services, while another 81 pupils have been given passes to use these buses free of charge as they do qualify for free school transport.

The surveys showed 55 per cent of the bus services' 724 available seats are used.

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.

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

Last 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.

The council is looking to cut £3.7m across its service areas in 2019 to 2020.

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

A consultation will run on the council’s website until May 28.