Frequently Asked Questions

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The Headington and MCS Bus Partnership (HMBus) has been set up by Headington School and Magdalen College School (MCS) to provide a safe and reliable transport solution for pupils who do not have suitable walking, cycling and public transport options available.

Through HMBus, Headington and MCS are working together to manage and oversee all aspects of the bus service including routes, timetables and fares.  The schools have excellent working relationships with trusted Partners contracted to provide support to deliver the HMBus service including:

  • Coach operators - Grayline, Horseman, Pearces, Pulhams and Worths.

Oxford Bus Company (OBC) who provide the operational and booking support for parents, pupils and schools.  OBC also provide monitoring and a local point of contact for parents (telephone and email) during all hours that buses are operating (AM and PM Core Service, and Late Bus).

The ‘Core Service’ refers to the 12 HMBus Routes that run during the AM and the (earlier) PM.

Pupils in Year 3 and above from Headington School, MCS and Rye St Antony are able to use the AM and PM Core Service.

NOTE: Parents must book either an AM & PM ticket on the Core Service, or an AM Only or PM Only ticket on the Core Service, in order to be able to book a seat on the Late Bus.

The Core Service will start on Wednesday 6th September 2023. The days of Core Service operation for the 2023/24 Academic Year are shown below.

  From (inclusive) To



Autumn Term 2023

Weds 6th Sept Fri 13th Oct
  Mon 30th Oct Weds 13th Dec
Hilary/ Spring Term 2024 Mon 8th Jan Fri 9th Feb
  Mon 19th Feb Weds 27th Mar
Trinity/ Summer 2024 Mon 15th April Fri 24th May
  Mon 3rd June Fri 5th July

Rye parents: Please note that there are Rye term days where there is no service.

Core Service buses will operate to usual timings for the journey to and from school but a mid-day return service for Headington School/ Rye St Antony pupils will not be provided.

No, pupils must sign-up for travel on 5 days per week although AM Only or PM Only options are available - and pupils can choose not to travel on the bus every day.

Sign-up is for the whole Academic Year from when a child starts to use the service. For bookings taken after the start of the academic year  a pro-rata charge is applied from the start of the half-term block during which use of the bus begins.

Yes. Please identify your routes/stops on your booking form and this can be accommodated subject to seat availability.

Rye St Antony pupils can also travel on HMBus services and should use the stops on London Road that serve Headington School.

Due to safeguarding, insurance and other factors, it is not possible for pupils attending other schools to travel on the service even if they have siblings using the service from Headington, MCS and/or Rye.

HMBus is working in partnership with Grayline, Horseman, Pearces, Pulhams and Worths. Operators of specific routes are:

  • Grayline: Routes 1, 2, 3 and 10
  • Horseman: Routes 4, 5, 6 and 12
  • Pearces: Routes 7, 8
  • Pulhams: Route 11
  • Worths: Route 9

Yes. The schools subsidise the Bus Partnership as part of their commitment to encouraging sustainable travel.

Yes. Items can be stored in the lockers underneath the coach.  Lockers may only be opened or closed by the driver and therefore pupils should tell the driver before they board that they have items to be stored under the bus.

Live tracking is provided on all services to enable parents, pupils and schools to see where services are in real time and to help with the logistics of meeting pupils from buses. In addition, the HMBus Support team monitor services and are contactable by phone and email during the school runs ( or 01865 785423).

Parents are encouraged to use the tracking but if there is a particular issue in the morning affecting pick up, or a significant delay or issue in the afternoon, a message will be sent via text and/or email to parents. Parents will be sent information via the HMBus messaging system about how to access the tracking before their child starts travelling on the service.

HMBus and our operators are committed to ensuring that all pupils can travel on our coaches. Operators are contracted to use modern, well-maintained  coaches on all HMBus Routes with wheelchair-accessible coaches available should these be required.

If your child has a disability or mobility issue (either permanent or temporary) that may affect their use of the coach, please discuss your requirements with your child’s school and HMBus will address specific requests on a case-by-case basis.

HMBus is a new initiative for parents and pupils, and the Routes and stops will be kept under review to ensure that the network of services offered is optimised to meet the needs of Headington School and MCS families. This could mean introducing new stops and/or Routes, including Late Bus services.

Where there is insufficient demand such that a service becomes unviable, schools reserve the right to remove stops and/or Routes. At least one term’s notice will be provided in such circumstances.

The ‘Routes’ tab on the website provides information about timings. If you click on the time of the stop you are interested in, this will take you to the ‘What 3 Words’ location of the stop.

What3words is a means of sharing exact locations in a way that is more precise than a postcode. The system converts GPS coordinates into a 3 word address which can be shared on a map-base. The system enables users to view locations in satellite and street view. More information can be found at

Rye St Antony pupils will need to use the Headington School bus stops on London Road. What3 words locations are:

Outside Headington School gate:  ///menu.breed.admiral

Opposite Headington School: ///

The HMBus service has been set up by Headington School and MCS, to serve pupils at those schools.  Rye pupils are permitted to use the service but additional stops on Franklin Road cannot be added due to the impact on journey times.

The bus service has been set up by Headington School and MCS, to serve pupils at those schools.   Rye pupils are permitted to use the service but the bus cannot leave later due to the impact on journey times for other pupils as even a few minutes delay can have a disproportionate impact on timings.

Rye St Antony are responsible for the safety of pupils at the school-end and for ensuring that junior pupils catch the correct bus, are met from HMBus services and are escorted safely between school and the bus stop.  Parents should speak to Rye St Antony directly about the arrangements the school will put in place.


There are 4 Fare Zones (Zones 1 to 4) for travel to/from locations outside Oxford, plus an additional ‘cross-Oxford’ Zone (Zone 0). The fare structure takes into account a number of factors including distance travelled and the boundaries of the ‘Oxford (public transport) Smart Zone’ area.

Purchasing a zonal pass gives Senior School pupils flexibility to use any stop on that service within lower zones i.e. a Zone 4 pass allows travel in Zones 1, 2, 3 and 4. Whilst this should also be possible for Junior pupils this will be subject to discussion and agreement between the school and parents.

Yes, there is a sibling discount of 15% on the 2nd child’s fare, and a 30% discount on any subsequent child travelling to/from Headington, MCS or Rye. The discount is applied to the cheapest fare(s).


You will need to complete the booking form that can be found under the ‘Book Tickets’ tab. Payment is made at the time of booking.

If you are booking a seat for multiple children you will only need to complete one booking form, with the sibling discount(s) automatically applied.

The commitment is to sign up to the Core Service for an Academic Year after which all bookings end. There is no automatic carry-over of bookings to the next Academic Year

However, if for any reason you consider that there are issues with the service that can be proven, cancellation will be possible.

Cancellation is also possible within a 14-day ‘cooling off’ period from when a pupil starts to use the HMBus service.  In this situation,  pro-rated refund will be given, subtracting the fare covering the number of days that the service has operated up to the time of a pupil’s cancellation.

Payment is taken by secure online payment (Stripe) at the time of booking. Stripe enables online transactions to be made without storing any credit card information. You can also pay with PayPal, should you prefer.

Payment is possible as one single transaction at the time of booking or in two equal instalments (one at the time of booking and another on Monday 12th  February 2024).

You will be able to pay for multiple children’s fares as a single transaction but with the fares itemised per child at the online checkout.

If paying in instalments, parents will receive an automated reminder prior to the February payment becoming due.

Once you have booked, you will receive your child’s bus pass directly from the HMBus support team.  Passes will be posted to the address provided at the time of booking.  You should receive your pass within two weeks of making your booking if you are booking before 23rd August 2023 and within 5 days if booking from after that date.

Unfortunately, friends will not be able to travel on the Core Service.

Bookings for Headington School and MCS families open on Monday 19th June 2023 with bookings for Rye St Antony opening from Wednesday 19th July 2023.

Bookings will be accepted on a first come-first served basis subject to seat availability.

To guarantee travel from the start of Term, bookings must be made by midnight on Wednesday 23rd August 2023.

Bookings can still be made from Thursday 24th August but  pupils will not be able to start travelling until Monday 18th September 2023 at the earliest.

It is possible to book at any time throughout the year although the commitment is to sign up for the remainder of the Academic Year.

The fare payable is calculated in half term blocks which means that the most cost-effective approach to booking is to start using the service at the beginning of a new term or immediately after a half term break.

It is not possible to reserve unpaid seats on services.

Pupils must not start to use the service unless they have received their bus pass or parents have received written notification that their child can start to use the service. Bookings must be received by midday on Thursday for travel the following week. This delay may be longer for Junior/ Prep pupils where written confirmation is required from the School to ensure arrangements are in place.

Yes, this is possible.  Changes can be made for the start of each term or half-term break with the fare adjusted accordingly by half term blocks. If any changes are required, parents should email

Behaviour and safeguarding

Parents must ensure that their child is aware of the Pupil Code of Conduct before they travel on the service. HMBus will ensure that the Pupil Code is adhered to. Any issues with on-board behaviour should be reported to your child’s school who will liaise with operators and other school staff as necessary to resolve any concerns. Drivers/ operators are also vigilant and will report any issues of concern to schools.

Drivers: All HMBus drivers must have an Enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check and hold a current ‘OCC-badge’ i.e. they must have undertaken Oxfordshire County Council’s driver/ safeguarding training.

Vehicles and operations: HMBus is committed to ensuring that there are high standards of safety on all services, with full compliance to industry standards, policies and good practice. HMBus has robust and comprehensive contracts in place with operators - with modern, well-maintained coaches; 3-point seat belts; and experienced and professional drivers.

Parents/carers must be at the drop-off location to meet their children if they are in Year 6 or below – unless parents have notified the HMBus Support Team ( in writing that this is not required.

Pupils in Years 7 and above do not need to be met at the home/hub-end unless a parent specifically requests this in writing.

A small pool of regular drivers is used on all HMBus services so that drivers are familiar with where pupils board and alight, and who needs to be met at the home-end. At the start of the Autumn Term, drivers will announce bus stops and school stops for those pupils who are new to the service and unfamiliar with the route.

Younger pupils (Year 6 and below) sit at the front of the bus in reserved seats, nearest to the driver.

Schools also have their own processes in place at the school-end to ensure that pupils travel to and from the bus safely.

Adverse weather

Each HMBus operator will inform schools if the weather is such that the safety of its passengers and driver will be impacted.

Parents will be contacted by HMBus’ text and email communication system and parents should check individual school websites for snow closure arrangements or similar, in the event of severe weather.

Lost Property

If your child thinks they have left an item on the bus, please:

  • Speak to the regular driver on the route that you use as drivers will typically carry any found items on the bus with them so that they can be returned.
  • Call the relevant operator directly - see the Operators section of this website for contact details.
  • Email providing details of the lost item; the Route on which the item was lost; and the date/time that it was left on the bus.

Parents will need to make arrangements to collect items from the driver the next time their child travels, or to collect items from the operator’s depot.