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So why is getting the bus or train to school a good idea?
What are the issues and how can they be overcome?
What public transport related initiatives might feature in a School Travel Plan?

Fact...

Nationally 5% of  all school journeys are made by public transport and this has remained so for the last few years. 

So why is getting the bus or train to school a good idea?

Cartoon image of No Parking outside of a school.Walking and cycling are not always viable options for the school journey. For many of us there may be another alternative to using the car for these usually short journeys to and from school, and that is by public transport1. Using the bus should also be seen as a positive sustainable choice of travel:

  • Buses take up far less road space than the cars needed to carry an equivalent number of passengers.

  • More bus or train travel during the peak school run will cut congestion on the roads, so helping to reduce vehicle emissions.

  • Catching the bus or train to school allows children to socialise with their peers, gain greater independence and self-confidence, and learn important life skills such as how to read a timetable.

  • The walk to and from the bus stop or train station increases physical activity and the associated health benefits.

Image of getting public transport to schoolThe public transport network in Hampshire is extensive and incorporates bus, rail and ferry services. However parents/guardians and students need to know what services are available – you can use school open days, parents’ evenings and the period before students start at a new school to tell people about the services that are available. The Passenger Transport Group at Hampshire County Council has a wide range of publications available.

What are the issues and how can they be overcome?

Your school may already have a number of students, or staff that come to and from school by bus. Your travel survey should help to identify if there are any particular issues that are preventing even more of them to use public transport for their journey to and from school.  It would be helpful to carry out an audit of the local bus stops and service availability at the same time you undertake your travel survey. Some of the issues that may be raised include:

  • Lack of a bus at a time suitable for school starting or finishing times.

  • Lack of safe pedestrian routes to the bus stop either at the school or near home.

  • No shelter or lighting at the stop.

  • Road layout within the school grounds causing problems where buses enter the school grounds to drop off or pick up.

  • Lack of knowledge on the public transport services that are available. The provision of up-to-date timetables and maps showing relevant local routes could be one of your Action Plan targets.

While you may not be able to resolve all of these issues, liaison with the County Council and the local bus operator may mean that some of these issues can be tackled and should be included within your Action Plan.

What public transport related initiatives might feature in a School Travel Plan?

  • Having a public transport/school bus notice board

  • Create timetables that students can easily understand

  • Working with bus providers to get special offers and favourable terms for students in and out of school time

  • Identifying routes that are not well-served 

  • Developing a bus behaviour code to tackle any bullying and vandalism problems.

Further information on these and other initiatives can be found in Identifying solutions and developing solutions.


1 Increasing Bus Use for Journeys to School A Guide to Best Practice within Existing Legislation February 2001 Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions: London