A key area targeted in the DETR White Paper 'A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone' (1998) was school travel. Data from the National Travel Survey show that over a third of primary school children and over a fifth of secondary school children now travel to school by car. The Government established a School Travel Advisory Group (STAG) in December 1998 to bring together experts in education, road safety, child health and accident prevention as well as transport coordination. This group aimed to raise the profile of school travel issues and encourage and contribute to a coherent approach to school travel.
The introduction of full Local Transport Plans (LTP) saw further emphasis being placed on reducing car use and improving children's safety on the journey to school, taking into account the health and education targets. The original guidance on the 1st Full Local Transport Plans stated that the LTP should 'set out an integrated strategy for reducing car use and improving children's safety on the journey to school, taking account of health and education impacts'. The guidance also asked local authorities to take account of the STAG recommendation that by 2010 the level of cycling, walking and bus travel to school should return to the level in the mid 1980s. To achieve this, the guidance stated that 'authorities should set out how they should work with individual schools to develop school travel plans'.
The objectives of the research were to identify the following:
- Changes since summer 1999 in levels of activity relating to school travel plans and initiatives;
- The extent to which changes can be attributed to DTLR/STAG (School Travel Advisory Group) promotional activities, (guides, resource packs and regional seminars);
- Examples of school travel plans and initiatives (STPs and STIs) that look likely to have a significant impact, where monitoring arrangements are in place (or could be usefully put in place or enhanced);
- Examples of specific linkages made with health and education initiatives;
- Coverage of school travel strategies and plans in full LTPs including the extent to which they have taken into account STAGs aim of returning by 2010 to the level of walking, cycling and bus use in the mid 1980s;
- Examples of good practice in setting out school travel strategies in full LTPs.
Additional objectives of the research were to identify:
- The areas and regions which are most/least active and effective;
- Types of school and location (urban, rural or suburban) with most/least activity and the most/least effective initiatives;
- Main reasons given by local authorities/schools for becoming involved/not involved in school travel activities;
- Sources of support including funding.
The first stage of the study consisted of a postal survey of all local highway authorities in England and Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs) which determined the 1999 survey. The second stage of the project consisted of a desk study of the Local Transport Plans, (LTPs) and Local Implementation Plans (LIPs) which established changes in the level of development of STPs as reported in these documents since the previous review by TRL in 2000. Examples of good practice for describing school travel strategies and plans in LTPs/LIPs have also been identified. From the results of this work a database of the main data has been created building on the 1999 survey returns and on the TRL database covering the Provisional Local Transport Plans (LTPs). In order to determine whether schools were using information and guidance material on School Travel Plans and whether they find it useful in helping them develop successful STPs, ten schools were interviewed by telephone. The sixth stage of the project identified the potential case studies for future monitoring of STPs. These case studies have been determined from the results of the first two stages but are also based on criteria such as type of school (primary/junior, ownership type etc), type of local authority (County Council, Unitary etc), geographical region, economic region and rural/urban split.
- The take-up rate of STPs has increased from 38% in 1999 (of Counties, Metropolitan Boroughs, London Boroughs and English Unitaries) to 50% of authorities with at least one school that has implemented an STP. 62% (as in 1999) of County Councils have at least one school that has implemented an STP. London Boroughs show the greatest improvement from 21% in 1999 to 48%.
- The percentage of authorities with STPs & School Travel Initiatives (STIs) implemented or started or firmly planned in one or more schools are shown below:
STPs Implemented or started: 38% (1999) - 50% (2001) - +12% (change)
STPs Firmly Planned: 22% (1999) - 22% (2001) - 0 (change)
STIs Implemented or started: 75% (1999) - 79% (2001) - +4% (change)
STIs Firmly Planned: 11% (1999) - 11% (2001) - 0 (change)
- 79% (79) authorities stated that STIs had been implemented at one or more of their schools compared to 75% (100) from the 1999 survey. 11% had firmly planned STIs, 6% had actively considered STIs and 4% did not answer. None of the authorities had rejected or not considered the implementation of STIs. Of the returned questionnaires 85% of London Boroughs stated STIs had been implemented or started (an increase from 61% in the 1999 survey), 10% were firmly planning or actively considering them and 5% did not answer.
- The survey was conducted between March and April 2001, just after School Travel Plan Coordinator bursaries were announced by DTLR in February 2001 but before recruitment had taken place. 17 (17%) authorities of which nine were County Councils had a member of staff who worked 100% of their time on school travel issues. The majority of these 17 authorities had School Travel Plan Co-ordinators in place, using funding provided by DTLR bursaries. It is expected that this number will rise substantially over the next few months due to further recruitment of STP Coordinators.
- STPs had been implemented or started in a total of 376 schools compared to 432 in 1999. On the face of it this is a decrease of 56. However, any comparison between the two years needs to be treated with a great deal of caution since 93 implemented or started STPs were in authorities who responded in 1999 but did not respond in 2001. Also, we found that seven authorities reported fewer schools with implemented or started STPs than they did in 1999 - a difference of 201. This was mainly due to those authorities using a stricter definition of STP than they did in 1999.
- The most common STI
It can be concluded that there is a great deal of activity within authorities in attempting to tackle the issues surrounding school travel although the type of action and the terminology used may differ. The research showed that there needed to be an increase in school travel plan activity over the next three years following the project, with the appointment of 56 School Travel Plan Co-ordinators (plus 16 joint school/workplace co-ordinators), expanded Site Specific Advice Programme and the amount of funding that is being made available through Local Transport Plans.
On 17 September 2003 Government therefore announced Travelling to School initiative to help create a step change in the way children in England travel to school. The Travelling to School initiative supported by £7.5m pa joint funding (DfT and DfES) to support the employment of a network of around 250 school travel advisers and regional school travel advisers to work with schools and help them develop and implement school travel plans, and up to £20m a year in small capital grants (DfES) for schools with approved school travel plans. Funding originally provided up to 2006 but recently extended to 2008. DfT has also contributed £10m funding to Sustrans' Links to Schools project to provide improved links to more than 300 schools. Government wants schools and local authorities to work together to develop and implement individual school travel plans so that by 2010 all schools in England have a plan; school travel plans contain measures that make it safer and more attractive for children to walk, cycle or use public transport to and from school.
School travel plans contain measures that make it safer and more attractive for children to walk, cycle or use public transport to and from school. This project builds on the results of two surveys conducted in 1999 and 2001 and has concluded that:
- The take-up rate of School Travel Plans (STPs) has increased from 38% in 1999 to 50% of authorities with at least one school that has implemented an STP;
- 79% of the authorities stated that School Travel Initiatives (STIs) had been implemented at one or more of their schools compared to 75% from the 1999 survey. 11% had firmly planned STIs and 6% had actively considered STIs. None of the authorities had rejected or not considered the implementation of STIs;
- The most common STIs impleme