Comprehensive school transport review

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Our client, a vibrant and forward-thinking HMC school based in Essex, engaged us to conduct a wide-ranging review of their school transport provision. Working closely with the school’s senior leadership team and estates department over a two-month period, we redesigned the school’s coach service to deliver an enhanced service for parents and students.

We focused on reducing journey times for students travelling from further afield; the school’s excellent reputation means it enjoys a wide catchment area, but this means that students do need to travel long distances to get to and from school. To solve this problem, we introduced three express coach routes from popular localities a 45-60 minute drive from the school, and used minibuses to operate shorter routes closer to the school to avoid leaving any students without a coach transport option.

We used our data analysis and GIS capabilities to identify some overcapacity and opportunities for efficiency savings (principally through the reduction of vehicle sizes), and this allowed us to divert resource to fund the express services. The use of small vehicles also enabled better penetration of the coach service into more rural areas, which proved very popular with parents.

We also supported the school in migrating away from a hybrid model, whereby some coach services were provided on a commercial basis by external contractors, and others were managed in house by the school. We introduced clear and comprehensive contracts with all operators, covering home to school and private hire journeys, and specified the use of CCTV on all vehicles to enhance safeguarding and student security.

The school were keen to maintain and develop the relationship they had with their existing coach operators - in one case this relationship dated back over thirty years - so we visited each operator personally to develop a rapport with them and build a working relationship. Four out of the five operators who previously worked with the school continue to do so; we also facilitated a change of operator where it was felt that this was required. This involved us identifying, auditing and negotiating with a new contractor to take over some routes.

The new coach network has proved popular with parents and students; in particular, those who benefit from the new express routes really appreciate the reduced journey times. Following our review, the school contracted us to provide a fully managed transport solution, so we now manage every aspect of the school’s transport on their behalf. Our dedicated account management team work hard to ensure that a high quality, reliable and good value transport service is provided to all parents and students.