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Taking the bus to school

Planning the journey

It’s a good idea to check which bus is best to catch. Try and find out in advance where to find the nearest stop is, so that you are confident where to go on the first day. Even if you’ve caught the bus before then check that the times and the route haven’t changed. Plan to arrive at the stop 5 minutes before the bus is due to ensure that you don’t miss it.

Waiting for the bus

There may be more than one person waiting for a bus at the stop, so wait sensibly away from the road; please be mindful of other bus passengers who may be waiting for the bus also. Do not push or trip others on the pavement whilst waiting for the bus, as it could cause an accident. Make sure you have your pass and any fare ready before the bus arrives, this will mean that the driver won’t have to wait for you to find it and delay the journey. As the bus approaches make sure it is your bus by checking the service number and destination which are clearly displayed on the front of the bus; raise your arm as a signal to the driver that you want the bus to stop.

Getting on the bus

Board the bus calmly and do not push other people in front or to the side of you to get on more quickly; make sure that you allow other passengers to board the bus if they were there before you. Show your pass to the driver, and where necessary pay your fare, try to have the correct change if possible. Then find a seat on the bus, use seats upstairs if necessary.

During the journey

Stay seated throughout the journey, if seatbelts are fitted then they must be worn. If no seats are available and you must stand then ensure that you always hold onto handrails, that you don’t stand upstairs, on the stairs or to the side of the driver. Do not distract the driver unless it is an emergency and do not cause any damage to the bus or interfere with its working.

Getting off the bus

When your stop is next, ring the bell once. If it has already been rung, you do not need to ring it again. If you need to cross the road when you get off the bus, wait until the bus has moved off and you can see the road clearly in both directions or go to the nearest available crossing.

REMEMBER: When using the bus, behave sensibly and safely for all parts of the journey. Any pupil that causes damage to buses, bus stops or shelters and/or does not meet the required standard of behaviour on the bus could:

  • Have their pass withdrawn.
  • Be banned from the bus.
  • Be prosecuted by the police.
  • Be required to pay for any damage they have caused.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who co-ordinates and funds the school bus services?

School bus services are co-ordinated by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM). TfGM don’t run any buses, but most of the services are provided by funding from TfGM to bus operators to provide the services.

Say yellow to the Bee Network

The first Bee Network buses will start operating in parts of Greater Manchester from 24 September 2023. There’s nothing you need to do differently for now, but you might start to see our yellow Bee Network buses on routes in Bolton, Wigan and parts of Salford, Bury and Manchester.

Buses in all other areas will remain the same, run by private operators. They will join the Bee Network in two phases through to January 2025.

Through the Bee Network, TfGM will have greater local control of bus services, which will:

  • make it easier than ever to get around by bus, tram, train, bike - all linked up with the UK’s biggest cycling and walking network
  • make travel easy to use, reliable and sustainable travel for everyone
  • make fares lower and simple, including flexible tickets
  • make us answer to you, the passenger: with a clear set of customer commitments explaining what you can expect from us and what to do if your experience falls short

As part of tranche one, 31 schools in Bolton, Wigan and parts of Manchester, Salford and Bury will join the Bee Network. There will be limited changes to the schools served or the numbers of buses used on these services. School children can continue to use these services as normal.

The second phase of Bus Franchising will be introduced on 24 March 2024 in Oldham, Rochdale and parts of Bury, Salford and North Manchester. This will then be followed by the final phase on 5 January 2025 in Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and the remaining parts of Manchester and Salford.

More information about Bus Franchising is available on our dedicated webpage.

How do you decide where to run the buses?

Some schools provide information to TfGM to allow us to understand the areas where students live to determine where there is likely to be a demand for services, otherwise we will look at where students travelled in previous years. Buses are not cheap to run, so we plan our services carefully to ensure that we carry the maximum number of students.

Do buses only stop at the points shown in the timetable?

No. Buses will stop at all stops along the route. There are some exceptions where buses run non-stop on certain sections of route, but these are shown clearly in the timetable.

There is no bus for my child to get to school. How are they going to get there?

Many students across Greater Manchester use the general network of services to get to/from school, basic details of these are provided within the timetable pages and full timetables for these services can be found at Travel by bus | Transport for Greater Manchester (

The route and timetable of my child’s service has been changed from last year. Why is this?

As the numbers of students to schools from individual areas fluctuates, this means that routes may be revised to cater for these fluctuations. To ensure that there are enough students on the route to justify the service running, buses from areas may be combined to ensure that there are enough numbers of students for each bus to run.

Will it change again?

TfGM reviews the operation and use of services throughout the year and particularly during the autumn term to determine whether any changes are necessary. Mid-year changes predominantly take place by October half-term but can take place at any point in the year. It is possible that routes may change again next year if the number of students using services are low, suitable alternative services are in place or if there has been a significant change in the location of students attending school.

My child is applying for a place not at our local school. There is a bus service there now; will it be there next year?

Services are subject to change, and the provision of a service this year does not mean that the service will necessarily be provided next year. Before deciding to attend a non-local school, consider how your child would get to school if the school bus was no longer provided.

My child’s school bus now drops them off much earlier and picks them up later than now. Why is this?

To make maximum use of our buses, we look to use the buses to run more than one journey. This means that some students may be dropped off earlier in the morning, to allow the bus to run onto another school or will be picked up later in the afternoon, because the bus has run a journey preceding.

We live local to our school. Will my child be able to use the bus?

Most of our school bus services are in place to carry students who live more than 2 miles from school. 2 miles has been used as this is the minimum statutory distance before students may be eligible for free school travel. Whilst there may be places available for students who live closer than 2 miles, local students are encouraged to walk to school. More information on walking to/from school can be found at Cycling and walking to school | Transport for Greater Manchester (

Why don’t you just put another bus?

TfGM’s funding predominantly comes from a levy on the 10 districts of Greater Manchester and ultimately from the Council Tax. Like all Local Authorities we have a limited budget, and this means that we don’t have the money to simply put on an extra bus. Where buses are not provided, the student numbers are low enough to be accommodated on the general service network.

Will my child get a seat on the bus?

Most buses provided allow for both seated and standing passengers, this means that some students may need to stand especially on more popular services for part or all of their journey to ensure that we can provide places to the maximum number of students possible.

There was a bigger bus last year. Why is it now smaller?

We look to provide places for everyone in the most cost-effective manner, smaller buses cost less to run than larger buses, so we will try to provide buses which match the current demand for places. This may mean some double deck vehicles have been replaced by single deck vehicles with some students needing to stand for part or all of their journey.

Are the buses provided only for school students?

All school bus services operate as local bus services. This means that they are open for everyone to use. Most of the time services are not used by anyone other than students, but it is possible.

Will my child need a special pass to use the school buses?

To travel for reduced fare on the bus, students must hold an igo card and present this to the driver each time. More information on fares is available on the fares and passes webpage.