PUPILS over the age of 16 are to lose free school bus journeys as cash-strapped Cumbria County Council seeks to slash £1m from its budget.

From September, subsidised bus routes will only be available to students from low-income families.

Council officials are urging parents to talk to their education provider to see whether they will provide transport or if they have to make their own arrangements.

“We have been having a very productive dialogue with schools and colleges to explore the potential for them to provide alternative, sustainable solutions,” said Coun Keith Little, cabinet member for transport.

“We are working hard to ensure that they can use any slack in the existing system to their advantage.”

The county council will make spare seats on its contracted routes available to schools and colleges to purchase on behalf of their students, at £360 a student.

The scheme will be phased in so students moving into Year 13 in September will still be offered subsidised transport – last year it stood at about £1,114 per pupil.

It is part of a wide range of plans being passed by the authority as it bids to make £24 million in savings this year.

Details at cumbria.gov.uk/schooltransport.