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School travel plans set to spread regionwide


School travel plans approach set to spread regionwide

An innovative method for reducing peak-time travel demand that is set to be rolled out regionwide as part of a strategy to deal with Auckland's transport problems took a step forward today with the launch of the Browns Bay School travel plan.

Browns Bay School in North Shore City is the third school in the country to develop a travel plan to improve the safety of children and reduce car travel and congestion on roads and at the school gate.

The initiative is part of the city's Travelwise to Schools project that is setting the trend for a range of regional non-pricing mechanisms to reduce peak time travel. These will be launched throughout the Auckland region as part of the jointly agreed strategy and funding plan between central and local government in Auckland to address the region's growing transport problems.

Recent research undertaken by the Auckland Regional Council and Infrastructure Auckland confirm that while most students currently travel to school by car, around 22 per cent of parents are prepared to consider alternatives.

The Browns Bay School Travel Plan has been developed in partnership with the school and its board of trustees, the East Coast Bays Community Board, the North Shore City Council and the local community.

A monitoring committee prepared the plan for the 670-pupil school after months of surveys and consultation with teachers, parents, children and residents. The process included children mapping their own journeys to school and discussing ways to encourage more walking and cycling and to reduce the number of cars travelling to the school.

The plan's actions include: * Improve the safety of the new walking school bus route and crossing at Masterton Road * Address safety issues within the block bounded by Masterton Road, Korotaha Avenue, Miri Road and Beulah Terrace * Investigate opportunities to find ways to safely cross Beach Road and then create new walking school buses * Look at ways to provide a central drop-off and walking school bus stop at the Browns Bay shopping centre * Develop promotional information on TravelWise and school travel policies including material directed at new entrants * Encourage car pooling and use of bicycles

Principal of Browns Bay Primary School, Roger Harnett, says the plan will be monitored on an annual basis and the aim is to reduce the number of children travelling to school by car by 10 per cent each year.

"It's interesting that when we asked the children how they wished to travel to school only 24 per cent put the car down as their first choice - yet 70 per cent are driven to our school by their parents. A lot of children actually want to be able to cycle (30%) and walk to school (21%) so I think we have an opportunity here to make a difference," he says. "The travel plan process is a great way of getting everyone to understand the issues and take responsibility for finding long term solutions."

North Shore City Mayor, George Wood, says the city has shown that school travel plans can help reduce congestion and won funding support from the Road Safety Trust, Infrastructure Auckland and Transfund for the technique.

"We have developed travel plans for Vauxhall and Bayswater schools and there are already noticeable differences with more students walking and cycling. Over 40 per cent of peak time travel in our region is education-related and we want to develop another 20 school travel plans in our city over the next 12 months. We are now employing a new full-time Travelwise to Schools co-ordinator to help make it happen," he says.

Mayor Wood says the Auckland region is looking at a range of non-pricing travel demand management options for reducing growing traffic in the region and school travel plans are in the mix thanks to the leadership of his city.

"We have to look at innovative ways to encourage people to make different choices for their journey to school. We need to involve parents, teachers and pupils in the process of coming up with the solutions and addressing the barriers to changing their travel behaviour," he says.

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