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87% of Students Opt For Car Travel To School & Uni

87% of Students Opt For Car Travel To School & University

Eighty-seven percent of students use private car travel to get to school and university at least some of the time, according to the first regional research of its kind from Auckland Regional Council (ARC) and Infrastructure Auckland (IA).

With forty percent of Auckland’s peak hour traffic related to education, the good news is that more than half of the families involved in education travel are willing to change the way they travel. The results also indicate that that the travel habits children learn when they are young carry over into adulthood.

The survey canvassed 1,236 parents and students across the Auckland region about their trips to education.

The research is instrumental for the ARC in planning, and IA in funding travel demand management (TDM) programmes. Walking school buses are already operating throughout the region and are reducing the number of car trips by a thousand per day. The next potentially powerful regional TDM solution is the creation of travel plans. These can be developed and implemented by universities, schools and employers. The immediate focus is on education travel plans.

ARC Transport Committee Chairwoman, Catherine Harland, says the research is vital in understanding how travel behaviours emerge and determining how best to influence change to minimise congestion.

“We now have insight from both parents and children about travel to education and what they feel are realistic options for those not wedded to cars.

“A particularly interesting aspect to emerge from the research which we did not anticipate is the different perception of the use of school as opposed to public buses. School buses seen by parents as best means to ensure children are delivered to school and children like the interaction with other children and see them as fun.”

Roger Hill, Manager – Transport at Infrastructure Auckland, says that similar efforts in the UK have delivered strong results.

“Since 1998 550 education travel plans have been put in place in the UK and this has reduced the number of morning peak car trips by an estimated 7%”, he says. “With 28,500 trips per day to the University of Auckland alone, looking at strategies to improve travel to education will be an important step in reducing Auckland’s transport congestion”.

Typical of the pilot projects being undertaken is Vauxhall Primary School on the North Shore. It is the first to produce a school travel plan. Vauxhall’s objectives are to reduce traffic congestion outside the school, encourage healthy alternatives to car transport, and increase road safety and awareness. The school is implementing a range of initiatives to achieve these aims.

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