HAMPSHIRE County Council is urging young people to travel actively and sustainably as they return to school.

It is hoped that pupils will either walk or cycle, or catch the bus/car share if they live further out.

Councillor Keith Mans, leader of the county council said that the transport teams have been working hard to ensure all school and college routes are safe.

"Hampshire schools and colleges are looking forward to welcoming back their students next week, and our teams have been working hard – with extra funding from Government - to ensure all young people have a safe and reliable route to school and college when they start their new academic year in September," he said.

“This includes those students who can walk or cycle, those who live are too far to walk or cycle to their catchment school so use transport provided by the County Council, and those who use public transport services – mainly students going to sixth form college.

“During lockdown, many people walked and cycled more than before and through the summer, we’ve put in a range of temporary travel infrastructure which allows more space for cycling and walking while maintaining a safe social distance. This reallocation of road space can be used by anyone walking, cycling or scooting to school as young people start the new school year; and we have put in a bid for more Government funding for additional schemes to build on this.

“I am confident that our Home to School Transport service has robust arrangements in place, including new COVID-safe measures and procedures, and been communicating regularly with schools as we plan for the new term. We’ve also been working closely with transport operators in the county to ensure there is sufficient capacity to get students back to schools and colleges where they use public transport."

Andrew Wickham, managing director of Go South Coast, and a member of the South Hampshire Bus Operators Association (SHBOA), added: “Bus operators in Hampshire have extra bus cleaning processes in place, and buses are a safe way of getting to and from school and college.

“The companies have worked very closely with Hampshire County Council and the colleges in the county to ensure there will be space for everyone to travel, on special school services and normal bus routes, with extra buses running this year. As is normal at the start of the school year, we will adjust services if needed to cope with any unforeseen problems.”