Parents campaign for US-style 'yellow school buses' for London to tackle congestion and air pollution

Solve the School Run is a new organisation calling for more cargo-bike friendly measures to be introduced as well as a fleet of US-style school buses.
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Campaigners are calling for the introduction of US-style "yellow school buses" in a bid to tackle congestion and air pollution during term time. 

According to parent campaign group Solve the School Run, a quarter of pupils in London are driven to primary school every weekday, equating to an extra 240,000 car trips on the roads during rush hours.

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The figures suggest there is a similar proportion of children being driven to primary school in inner London boroughs (25%) and outer boroughs (24%).

Kensington and Chelsea has one of the highest rates with more than a third of pupils (36%) being taken in a car to drop off and pick up. This is due to the number of children attending ‘non-catchment’ primary schools. By comparison, just 18% of primary pupils in Waltham Forest are driven to school.

A parent campaign group is calling for the introduction of yellow school buses in LondonA parent campaign group is calling for the introduction of yellow school buses in London
A parent campaign group is calling for the introduction of yellow school buses in London

The parents are calling for more publicly funded support for the school run. They say this could be in the form of funded and staffed walking groups or cycling groups, or funded school buses - more commonly used in countries such as the US, Germany, Spain and Norway.

In England, children only receive funding for school transport if they are under eight and the school is more than two miles away, or if they are eight or over and the school is more than three miles away.

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Solve the School Run says in the US yellow buses are available for anyone that lives more than one mile from their school. In some major cities such as New York, support is available if you live just half a mile away from school.

In the USA, more than half of children go to school on a school bus, compared with just 6% of pupils in the UK.

The group says that the government should consider official "walking buses" or "bike buses" with staffed marshals walking or cycling pupils from “stops” to school.

Another option suggested is subsidised electric cargo bikes so parents can take their children longer distances and beat the traffic.

A parent Nicola Pastore battles the school run with three children.A parent Nicola Pastore battles the school run with three children.
A parent Nicola Pastore battles the school run with three children.
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Nicola Pastore, a parent who lives in Lambeth and co-founded Solve the School Run, said: “Every morning and afternoon I run the gauntlet of double-parked cars, congestion on crossings, idling and road rage, to walk my three young children to school. It’s the most dangerous part of our day.

"With so many families travelling more than a mile to school, they need more help to get to school in a way that is healthy, less stressful and doesn’t damage our local environment. That could include electric cargo bikes or staffed walking buses and cycle groups. Imagine if our big cities had yellow buses, like in the US, which remove the need for every parent to go on the journey every day. We need change.”

Will Norman, London's Walking and Cycling Commissioner said school run congestion is a "big problem".

"On average there are about a quarter of a million car journeys in London based around the school run. A lot of them are based around school trips," Mr Norman told LondonWorld.

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"Getting people to shift those trips from using their car to walking, cycling or scooting to school is really important.

"Our initiatives of over 500 school streets is helping with that, our initiatives working with over 1,000 schools across the city is enabling more kids to do this.

"I would encourage every school to be having have an active travel plan."