Choosing the Bus: Modal Choice Amongst Young People
CROSS T, West Sussex County Council and THORNTHWAITE S, Sign Thornthwaite Consultants, UK
In West Sussex between one third and one half of secondary pupils are taken to school by car. This contributes around 15% of traffic during the peak hour and represents a threefold growth in car borne journeys to school since 1974. The impact of traffic c
In West Sussex between one third and one half of secondary pupils are taken to school by car. This contributes around 15% of traffic during the peak hour and represents a threefold growth in car borne journeys to school since 1974. The impact of traffic congestion is clear but the less obvious effects on the independence and health of young people, the safety of those choosing not to travel by car and the consequences for the environment are significant.
The growing dependence on the car for this particular journey purpose reflects the wider increase in its use, with road traffic volumes doubling over the last two decades and forecasts suggesting a similar increase by the year 2025 on 1988 levels. It is recognised that such growth is not sustainable and action is being taken by National and Local Government to manage demand for car travel. In general terms this has involved initiatives to penalise car users whilst improving pubhc transport services, cycling and pedestrian facilities to encourage greater use of those more sustainable modes.
In recent years a third and complementary approach has been introduced which centres upon the individual's travel choice and the need to reduce their dependence on private cars. Many local authorities have adopted this approach, collectively referred to as TravelWise, to encourage a more responsible use of cars. Policies have tended to focus upon the most sustainable transport modes, notably walking and eychng with less emphasis upon the public transport alternatives.
Within the TravelWise 'umbrella', walk to school weeks are popular and can achieve positive results. Follow up research from one such initiative in Bexley showed 7% fewer children being dropped off at school by car, two weeks after the walk to school week. The longer term impacts of these initiatives are, however, less certain. The cycling charity SUSTRANS is currently undertaking a project entitled Safer Routes to School which is designed to encourage greater use of bicycles for the journey to school.
The underlying theme of these initiatives is to reduce car bome journeys to school by mJnlmlsing the perceived and actual dangers of travelling by bicycle or on foot. West Sussex County Council is participating in TravelWise, in the Safer Routes project and in Walk to School campaigns. In addition it has pursued a distinct and innovative approach to reducing ear borne journeys to school through encouraging greater use of public transport amongst school pupils. This involves targeting journeys which are typically between one and three miles, considered too far to walk, but falling below the distance where statutory provision of transport is required.
This paper describes the approach adopted by West Sussex County Council working in collaboration with Sign Thomthwaite Consultants. Whilst the majority of the finance is provided by the County Council, the Department of Transport, Environment and the Regions is supporting the research and analytical work through its Seedcorn Research Programme.
Association for European Transport