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Cut Car Travel, Says Scientists

Using our cars less and catching the bus more will improve road safety and reduce environmental damage, say scientists.

Carolyn O'Fallon of Pinnacle Research in Wellington is identifying when and why New Zealanders use their cars and what their attitudes are towards public transport.

“Managing and reducing car use will improve road safety, reduce environmental degradation, provide health benefits and improve energy and resource use,” said Dr O’Fallon.

“We interviewed 600 Auckland and Wellington car drivers who drive to work or study every day. We asked them how they would travel to work if they were faced with higher driving costs such as higher parking charges, vehicle registration surcharge or tolls to enter the central city. “

“We also asked what people will do if the higher driving costs were coupled with improvements to public transport such as more frequent services in peak periods and lower fares.”

“Our findings showed there is a group of hard core drivers who would continue to drive no matter how expensive driving became or how good the public transport service seemed,” said Dr O’Fallon.

The study, an investment of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, also investigated the reasons why parents drive their children to school.

“We have been able to gauge parents’ reactions to other safe methods of taking their children to and from school,” said Dr O’Fallon.

“Our work with those parents that drive their children to school revealed a strong interest in walking school buses. This is a system where one parent is in charge of walking groups of children to school and picking children up on the way”

“We are now working with Christchurch City Council to trial walking school bus networks in four different Christchurch schools,” said Dr O’Fallon.

“Ultimately, the success of our research programme will be measured by actual change in travel behaviour. In the mean time, we have successfully provided tools and knowledge to policy makers, planners and transport providers that will assist them in managing the transport network.”

For further information: Carolyn O’Fallon, Pinnacle Research, Mobile 025 240 4196, { HYPERLINK "mailto:pinnacle.research@clear.net.nz" }pinnacle.research@clear.net.nz Madeleine Setchell, Foundation for Research, Science and Technology Tel 04 9177806, Mobile 025 40 60 40, { HYPERLINK "mailto:madelein@frst.govt.nz" }madelein@frst.govt.nz


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