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Commission launches Yellow School Bus consultation
Tuesday 6 November 2007
The Yellow School Bus Commission today announced the launch of a consultation on the future of home to school transport and the potential for expansion of the use of American style yellow school buses. Central to the consultation will be a special yellow school bus modified as a mobile exhibition centre which will visit up to 30 British cities and towns over the next three months as part of a Yellow School Bus tour. During the tour, feedback and findings taken from parents, teachers, children and other stakeholders will be used to inform the Commission’s report that will be published next year.
FirstGroup announced the establishment of the Commission in July under the Chairmanship of David Blunkett and today announced the other members:
• Rt. Hon. David Blunkett MP (Chairman), Labour member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside, Former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Former Home Secretary and Former Secretary of State for Education and Employment.
• Lt. Col Tex Pemberton OBE - Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport with West Sussex County Council and Conservative County Councillor since 1997.
• Baroness Ros Scott - Liberal Democrat front bench spokesperson for the department of Local Government and Communities and former member of the Commission for Integrated Transport.
• John Burch, deputy director of operations at the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT). He sits on the CPT School Transport Committee and the DfT School Transport Experts Panel.
• Garth Goddard, recently retired Programme Director for the North West Centre for Excellence national transport efficiency project, for 8 years Head of Cheshire County Council's Transport Coordination Service and former advisor to the Shires' Public Transport Consortium.
• Patrick Harvie MSP. Green Party representative for the Glasgow Region since 2003 and Convener of the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee of the Scottish Parliament. Also a member and supporter of a wide range of organisations including Friends of the Earth and the Equality Network.
The Commission will examine and quantify the benefits of US-style home to school transport. It will review the yellow school bus model in the US together with similar programmes already being operated in the UK by First and other bus operators. The Commission will also examine ways of increasing the uptake of the model across the UK.
The Commission will make a number of site visits to locations across the UK where yellow school bus programmes are in operation and will also investigate how such services are delivered in North America. The Commission is expected to report in Spring 2008.
The Commission was set up following independent research of around 1,500 parents carried out by raisingkids.co.uk earlier this year. This clearly indicated that parents are seeking an alternative and viable solution for the school run. The research produced the following key findings:
- 38.7% of primary school children get to school by car – almost four times more than their parents’ generation
- 21% of secondary school children get to school by car – over three times their parents’ generation
- 86% of parents would be willing to send their children to school on a dedicated school bus
- The main benefits of a dedicated school bus service are the environmental benefits of reducing the school run (51.1%) and peace of mind knowing children are safe (34.4%)
- 60.8% of parents think such services should be funded through a mixture of parental contribution, local and national Government spending
Rt. Hon. David Blunkett, MP, Chairman of the Yellow School Bus Commission said: ““I'm thrilled that the Yellow School Bus Commission is launching the first ever national consultation on Yellow School Buses. We want to hear the views of parents, teachers, schools, business, the local community and, of course, from children themselves. I have a real sense that there’s a public and political momentum building in support of Yellow School Buses.
These iconic vehicles have been providing a safe and high quality means of carrying children to and from school for generations in North America. By offering a real alternative to the school run they now also seem to deliver the prospect of relieving congestion from our increasingly crowded towns and cities and consequently making a real contribution to reducing our impact on the environment and climate change.
This unique and compelling group of benefits led to the establishment of the Yellow School Bus Commission. With the invaluable feedback we'll get from our consultation tour we will evaluate the best ways of delivering this sort of service and making recommendations on how we match the US in the proportion of children who get to school in this way.”
Moir Lockhead, Chief Executive of FirstGroup plc, said: “Our own experience of operating yellow school bus programmes both in the UK and in North America shows that this is a tried and tested way of delivering a high quality, safe and reliable home to school transport system. The programmes deliver benefits to a wide range of groups and offer a win-win situation for everyone involved. The buses are popular with children, who recognise them from American films and TV. They enjoy travelling in them and parents and teachers appreciate the quality and security of service they provide.
“As the raisingkids survey shows, there’s a huge concern among parents about the environmental damage that is contributed by the school run and an appetite to use school buses. Over 50% of children in North America travel to school in yellow buses and there’s no reason we shouldn’t aim for that sort of figure on this side of the Atlantic”.
“This Commission will not only inform the debate on the delivery of dedicated home to school transport, but will also look at ways to bridge the funding gap that has prevented the national roll-out of yellow school buses in the UK."