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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 ‘Late Bus’ (Routes A, B, C and D) refers to the 4 services that depart Headington and MCS between 5.35pm and 5.45pm and serve strategic Hubs across the County . This is a limited service aimed at pupils who wish to stay later at school, for example, to participate in after school activities.
Only Senior Pupils (Year 7 and above) are able to use the Late Bus. Potential use by younger pupils will be reviewed in the Spring (Hilary) Term 2024.
Pupils must be booked on the ‘Core Service’ (as AM & PM, AM Only or PM Only) 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.
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.
Days of operation for the Late Bus days are linked to the schools’ after school activity schedules and there may be some days such as at the start and end of term where the Late Bus does not run but the Core Service does. The Late Bus days of operation will be confirmed in early July each year. For days when the Late Bus will not operate in the 2023/24 Academic Year, see the FAQ: ‘Will the Late Bus run on every day of term?’
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 and Late Bus C
- 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 (Core Services and Late Bus) 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 AM, PM and Late Bus school runs (email@example.com 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 what3words.com.
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. If pupils are unsure whether they will be able to get to the bus stop on time, they will need to use the Late Bus as the bus will be unable to wait for pupils who are late.
My child attends Rye St Antony and I have concerns about my child walking to Rye St Antony from the bus stop.
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.
When do I need to book a seat on the Core Service to guarantee a seat for travel from the start of the Autumn Term 2023?
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.
Is there any flexibility in when a Core Service booking can be made e.g. if my child does not want to start using the service until the Spring Term 2024?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 (email@example.com) 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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
How do I book a seat on the Late Bus for the 2023/24 Academic Year – do I need to book a seat for the whole year up-front?
The Core Service Booking must be made before booking the Late Bus with a separate booking form completed for the Late Bus.
There is flexibility as to whether seats are booked on the Late Bus for the whole year upfront, or on a ‘half-term’ by ‘half-term’ basis:
- For parents who know what their requirement for use of the Late Bus will be for the Academic Year, it will be possible to book the Late Bus for all 3 terms from the point that Late Bus bookings open. Different days can be booked for each half-term block e.g. Monday and Wednesday during the 1st half of the Autumn term and Friday for the 2nd half.
- For parents who prefer to book on a ‘half-term’ by ‘half-term’ basis this is still possible subject to seat availability as booking can be at any point of the year.
Payment must be made at the point of booking.
Bookings for the Late Bus will open in early July each year. Schools will provide parents with one week’s notice of bookings opening and the date will also be posted on the HMBus website at least one week in advance.
For the 2023/24 Academic Year, Late Bus bookings open on Monday 10th July 2023. Schools will publish their after school activities as soon as they are able, and parents may wish to wait until dates have been published before making their Late Bus booking. Late Bus bookings are non-refundable and non-transferable. Schools will review arrangements and use of the Late Bus in Spring 2024.
Core service operators will also be running the Late Bus services. For more information see the Late Bus page.
No, a booking for travel in the AM and/or PM (Core Service) is required in order to travel on the Late Bus i.e. ‘Late Bus’ only bookings are not permitted.
The charge is calculated per half term block (additional to the Core Service fare) and will be shown when booking. Please note: there is no reduction to the half termly charge if booking part way through a term. Sibling discounts do not apply to the Late Bus bookings.
Yes parents can book discrete days on the Late Bus but these must be the same for the duration of any half term period e.g. Monday, Thursday and Friday for the first half of the Autumn Term, and Wednesday and Thursday for the second half of Autumn Term.
If my child decides they wish to join a club during the term, can I still sign up for the Late Bus at that point?
Yes, subject to seat availability. Bookings must be made by Thursday 12 noon for travel during the following week.
Bookings must be made by Thursday 12 noon for travel during the following week.
No, the Late Bus service may not run for the first few days at the start/ end of term if there are few after school activities taking place.
For the 2023/24 Academic year the late Bus will NOT operate on the following days:
- Monday 4th September 2023 to Friday 8th September 2023 inclusive
- Wednesday 13th December 2023
- Friday 9th February 2024
- Friday 22nd March 2024 to Wednesday 27th March 2024 inclusive
- Friday 5th July 2024
Late Bus services depart Headington and MCS between 5.30pm and 5.45pm. Please refer to individual timetables for exact timings for each service.
If my child is taking part in a sports’ fixture, will there be provision for them to be able to take the Late Bus?
Fixtures and some clubs will not conclude in time for the Late Bus to be used. Alternative provision will need to be made by parents for this.
If my child has an event at the other school can they board the Late Bus there e.g. a Headington School pupil at MCS for a fixture.
No, this will not be possible initially but will be reviewed in February 2024.
No, the pupil’s name and home-end stop will be on the passenger list carried by the driver. All pupils must carry the bus pass they were issued with when the Core Service was booked, and be ready to show this to the driver if requested.
The Lost Property arrangements are the same as the Core Service – please refer to Lost Property FAQ for the Core Service.
No, it will not be possible for friends to travel on the Late Bus.
No, this is not currently possible. However, this policy will be reviewed in February 2024 – or earlier if circumstances require this.
Is the cost of the Late Bus refundable if my child does not attend a club e.g. due to a change in the day that the club runs or if the club is cancelled by the school?
No, Late Bus fares are non-refundable. All pupils are still able to stay at school and catch the Late Bus even if a club is cancelled or changed. If a pupil has a PM Core Service booking, they can still use the earlier PM bus if they prefer as the seat on the Core Service is guaranteed with or without a late booking.
The services are already reaching the home-end Hubs between 6.30pm and 6.50pm with some pupils having onward journeys to get home so later departures would not be appropriate. Routing and timings have already been optimised so extension of services is not possible.
The Late Bus services are limited-stop to expedite journey times, whilst also taking into account operational aspects including the location of operator depots and the impacts of longer journeys on fares and staffing.
Routing and timings have already been optimised so extension of services is not possible.
The Late Bus services are limited-stop to expedite journey times, whilst also taking into account operational aspects including the location of operator depots and the impacts of longer journeys on fares and staffing.
The HMBus network (Core Services and Late Buses) is subsidised by the schools, and Headington and MCS have provided an optimal network based on findings from their 2022 parent survey. If there proves to be sufficient demand then additional stops/ routes may be provided in the future.
Can I book different days on different weeks? Do you have to pick the same days if you are signing up for the whole year?
Yes, it is possible to book different days in half-term blocks. Please see FAQ: ‘How do I book a seat on the Late Bus for the 2023/24 Academic Year’ for further information.
Bookings must be made in half-term blocks as a minimum, for any half-term block, or multiples of within the academic year.
Additional bookings can be made at any time (in half term blocks) by using the booking form for additional days but cannot be cancelled.
Fares are non-refundable.
There is no flexible approach to payment and travel due to the fixed costs of running and underwriting the service.
Potentially in the future when we have a better understanding of demands, we will consider increasing flexibility for Late Bus bookings.
Pupils are not able to travel on the Late Bus unless they have a Core Service booking (AM Only, PM Only or AM & PM) and a Late Bus booking for the day they wish to travel.
The pupil will need to make alternative arrangements to get home – and should speak to a duty member of staff or return to their main school reception for assistance in contacting parents if needed.
The bus cannot wait beyond the scheduled drop off time for parents who are late. Pupils will be dropped off at their stop and the bus will continue its onward journey. Parents will need to make arrangements with their child directly, for collection from the stop.
If my child is booked to use the Late Bus but no longer needs to use it on a particular day can I use the Core Service PM bus instead?
Yes, if your child has a Core Service booking (ie AM & PM or PM Only), they can use the earlier service instead as the seat on the Core Service is guaranteed with or without a late booking. There is no need to notify anyone of this change in use.
If a pupil misses the bus, parents will need to make alternative arrangements for a child to get home. The pupil should speak to a duty member of staff or return to their main school reception for assistance in contacting parents if needed.
No, this is not currently possible. Alternative arrangements for getting home will need to be agreed between child/parent. Assistance from the reception at school can also be sought if required.
Due to the restricted number of Late Bus routes compared to Core Service routes, priority booking for the Late Bus is given to Core Route pupils. The Late Bus has been priced such that it takes into account the Core Service fare paid.
Yes, it will be possible to track the Late Bus services. Parents will be sent information about how to access the tracking before their child starts travelling on the service.
Parents will be notified in the same way as with the Core Service – via the HMBus email and text system.
You can wait until after school activity information is released by schools before booking the Late Bus as bookings can be made at any point during the Academic year, subject to seat availability.