A new report, published today, urges the Government to include plans for a national network of dedicated school buses in its forthcoming Education Bill, to address a range of pressing social, environmental and economic challenges.
The report – authored by the Sutton Trust, and published by the Social Market Foundation and Policy Exchange – argues that politicians should act on the positive results of a number of local school bus schemes, and roll out the initiative nationwide. Pilot schemes run by FirstGroup have shown that yellow buses can cut congestion and are popular amongst students, parents and schools. They could also save road users valuable time, lower greenhouse gas emissions, increase safety and reduce truancy.
Crucially, the report warns that the Government-s efforts to increase school choice will be thwarted if parents have no alternative but to send their children to the nearest school because of a lack of affordable transport. Yellow buses would help to extend school choice to all.
Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Sutton Trust, commented, “Nearly 20 percent of traffic on the UK’s roads during the morning rush hour is on the school run, and this is increasing. It leads directly to as many as 40 deaths and 900 serious injuries each year, and contributes over two million extra tonnes of carbon dioxide annually to the atmosphere. And the lack of adequate school transport has a social cost too, because it restricts the school choices of families, particularly those in disadvantaged circumstances.
“School buses would not only help to solve these problems, but the model developed by The Boston Consulting Group shows that they make sound economic sense, too. BCG estimate a yellow bus scheme for primary schools would deliver benefits of around £458 million a year – a return of two-and-a-half times the annual £184 million cost.”
The report will be launched with a yellow bus outside the Houses of Parliament and will be followed by a seminar to debate the report’s conclusions. Panel speakers include Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of The Sutton Trust; Barry Sheerman MP, Chairman of the Education Select Committee; and Damian Green MP, former Shadow Secretary of State for Education.