The use of public transport for school journeys in London

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe


The recent debate about adult travel patterns has focused on the costs of congestion and pollution arising from current habits and the need to encourage greater use of public transport in preference to private cars. Since there are approximately nine million school age children in the United Kingdom, the high proportion of school journeys made by parental car contributes significantly to congestion and environmental problems. Nationally, on average 23% of children's journeys to school during 1989/94 were in a car t, a fifty per cent increase since the mid 1980s. An analysis 1 of the peak traffic period of the average weekday (8.30 to 9am) in 1989/94 found that nearly 20 per cent of car driver journeys in progress at this time were for education escort purposes. Even in London, where levels of public transport service are still relatively high, a large proportion of children travel to school as car passengers. The results of the London Area Transport Survey 2 (LATS) carried out in 1991 showed that 29% of the capital's school pupils are driven to school. This high use of the car for school journeys is of particular concern to London Transport (LT) because school escort trips by car cause congestion and delay to other road users, affecting the reliability and journey times of bus se'rviees in London and making them less attractive to potential passengers. It has also been suggested that those who have not been regular public transport users in theiryouth are less comfortable using these modes and are less likely to be public transport passengers as they grow older, effectively reducing future markets. Another issue is safety concerns since statistically bus and'tube are safer than travelling by car, walking or cycling. In addition LT has a commercial interest in encouraging as many school journeys as possible to be undertaken by public transport rather than by private car. This paper summarises research carried out for LT using LATS frequency tabulations to determine the proportionate market shares of journeys to school and examine the factors influencing modal split, for example, age, gender, car ownership and trip length. It also reviews a range of policy measures to address the problems identified.


Permission to publish abstract given by AET.