Quantifying the transport-related impacts of parental school choice in England
2013-07-11T09:06:16Z (GMT) by
School travel is becoming increasingly car-based and this is leading to many environmental and health implications for children all over the world. One of several reasons for this is that journey to school distances have increased over time. This is a trend that has been reinforced in some countries by the adoption of so-called ‘school choice’ policies, whereby parents can apply on behalf of their child(ren) to attend any school, and not only the school they live closest to. This paper examines the traffic and environmental impacts of the school choice policy in England. It achieves this by analysing School Census data from 2009 from the Department for Education. Multinomial logit modelling and mixed multinomial logit modelling are used to illustrate the current travel behaviour of English children in their journey to school and examine how there can be a significant reduction in vehicle miles travelled, CO2 emissions and fuel consumption if the ‘school choice’ policy is removed. The model shows that when school choice was replaced by a policy where each child only travelled to their ‘nearest school’ several changes occurred in English school travel. Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) by motorised transport fell by 1 % for car travel and 10 % for bus travel per day. The reduction in vehicle miles travelled could lead to less congestion on the roads during the morning rush hour and less cars driving near school gates. Mode choice changed in the modelled scenario. Car use fell from 32 to 22 %. Bus use fell from 12 to 7 %, whilst NMT saw a rise of 17 %. With more children travelling to school by walking or cycling the current epidemic of childhood obesity could also be reduced through active travel.