Teenagers travelling to school by bus in the new academic year may have to fork out more than £700 for a seat for the year as prices increase.

Starting in September, students over the age of 16 could be facing an annual cost of £770, an increase of £130 from last year.

Children of school age are entitled to free school bus

places. However, this entitlement comes to an end at 16, when students must pay for what is called a surplus seat.

Dorset County Council cabinet members will discuss the increase as part of an annual consultation on its Transport Policy tomorrow.

Councillors Cabinet agreed in February 2016 that the

cost for post-16 students

should increase to £510 for September 2016, then £640 in September 2017 and £770 in September 2018, identified as the average cost of bus seats across the county at the


However, concerns have been raised about the potential 20 per cent increase and councillors have now been asked to consider a more gradual increase in prices.

Members will decide on one of three options, which are:

n An increase to £770 for 2018, rising to £785 in 2019 and to £800 in 2020

n An increase to £690 for 2018, rising to £745 in 2019 and to £800 in 2020

n An increase to £675 for 2018, rising to £715 in 2019, to £760 in 2020 and to £800 in


A report states: “The £770 for 2018 is still competitive with respect to charges by some post providers which can charge over £1,000, though neighbouring authorities are

charging between 400 and

£695 in 2018.

“All families are able to submit an appeal to challenge eligibility for transport or feel they should be entitled to free transport given their circumstances.”

As part of the consultation, the cabinet will also discuss cutting the walking distance for students who are eligible for a 50 per cent discount on the cost of a bus seat.

The current provision for such students is that they must be over five miles’ walking distance away to qualify for the discount.

The cabinet has now proposed to cut the distance to three miles in a move to increase funds for post-16 transport by £70,000.