School Travel Plans: Overcoming Barriers to Implementation

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - methods, planning - surveys, ridership - behaviour, mode - bus, mode - pedestrian, literature review - literature review


Walking buses, Walking, United Kingdom, Travel plans, Transportation policy, School trips, Primary school students, Literature surveys, Literature reviews, Implementation, Human behavior, Great Britain, Empirical methods, Elementary school students, Data collection, Data acquisition, Behaviour, Behavior


The number of primary school children travelling to school by car has almost doubled in 20 years. A governmental policy response is to introduce school travel plans. The paper raises and discusses important issues identified during a literature review, documentary analysis, and an empirical evaluation of school travel plans. These are: (1) barriers to their implementation, extensiveness and longevity, and (2) the behavioural approach which underpins school travel plan promotional literature. A comparative methods design was used for the empirical evaluation that measured the effectiveness of the travel initiatives operating at three schools. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected using questionnaires and travel diaries (n = 555, ages 7-11 years) and interviews (22 parents, four key persons). The output measures were: 'levels of walking to and from school' and 'awareness and attitudes' towards initiatives. In one of the schools a Walking Bus scheme operated successfully. The findings from the research form the backdrop for a discussion of potential measures to overcome the social, geographic, and financial restrictions imposed on some schools. A recommendation is made regarding data collection and the analysis of evaluation data. The general conclusion from the review is that a wide variation in the effectiveness of travel initiatives can be expected.