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Safer journeys to Auckland schools

18 March 2005

Safer journeys to Auckland schools

A programme that makes travelling to schools in Auckland easier and safer for children was launched today by Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Helen Clark said the School Travel Programme aims to reduce the amount of car traffic arriving at Auckland schools by ten per cent over ten years.

"This is a significant initiative because at present forty per cent of all the morning peak trips people make in Auckland are to school or tertiary education. The School Travel Programme will give children the choice of more active, social, safe, and sustainable ways of getting to school," Helen Clark said.

The government through the Ministry for the Environment has committed $1.5 million over two years to the running of the School Travel Programme, as part of the government’s Sustainable Development Programme of Action.

"The School Travel Programme helps to achieve the Programme of Action's vision of liveable cities. We can build a future where children will be able to get to and from school safely with their friends, by walking, by scooter, skateboard or bicycle, or by catching the bus, train or ferry. Reducing traffic also has clear benefits for the environment," Helen Clark said.

Helen Clark launched the School Travel Programme at the Auckland Regional Transport Authority's Youth Games in the Auckland Domain. So far, eight schools in Auckland have adopted School Travel Plans and have already significantly reduced the number of car trips to school. North Shore's Vauxhall School has reached its goal of forty fewer car trips to school each morning – a reduction of almost forty per cent.

Funding from central and local government will enable the programme to be extended to over ninety schools across the Auckland region during this year and next. Helen Clark said there are significant and far-reaching gains to be made from simply reducing the number of car trips to school.

"There are more than five hundred schools in the region with a total roll of more than 240,000. At present 67 per cent of all trips to primary schools are by car," Helen Clark said. "The Auckland School Travel Programme is an excellent example of a partnership between central and local government, under the umbrella of the Auckland Sustainable Cities Programme, working with the community to identify and achieve shared objectives."

The Auckland School Travel Programme: Fact Sheet The government is committed to a sustainable development approach to transport in New Zealand. School Travel Plans are a good example of how this can approach work. They contribute not only to transport and safety improvements, but also help to achieve health, educational, social, economic, and environmental objectives.

The School Travel Programme is part of the Auckland Sustainable Cities Programme, a joint initiative between central government and local government in Auckland. The Auckland Sustainable Cities Programme is part of the government’s New Zealand Sustainable Development Programme of Action launched in January 2003.

The government has committed $1.5 million over two years to the School Travel Programme. This, together with the current and planned funding from Auckland’s local authorities to support the programme and to improve road safety infrastructure around schools, will enable the programme to be extended to over ninety schools this year and next.

The Sustainable Cities team in the Ministry for the Environment has been working in partnership with the Auckland Regional Council and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority for the last 18 months to develop and implement this programme.

The School Travel Programme is based on successful models in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

The School Travel Programme also builds on the successful Walking School Bus programme now in place in more than 55 Auckland schools – an inititative which has already reduced car trips on Auckland roads by more than 6160 each week.

ENDS

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