Headlines: June 16th, 2005

A report today is calling for a national network of dedicated school buses to address a range of pressing social, environmental and economic challenges. The report, written by the Sutton Trust, and published by the Social Market Foundation and Policy Exchange wants the Government to include the idea in its forthcoming Education Bill.The authors argue that politicians should react to the positive results achieved by a number of local school bus schemes, by rolling out the initiative across the country. They say pilot schemes run by FirstGroup have shown that American-style yellow school buses not only cut congestion but also are popular with students, parents and schools. The report says the buses could also save road users valuable time, lower greenhouse gases, improve safety and reduce truancy.

The report warns the Government that steps to give families increased choice of schools will be thwarted if parents have no alternative but to send their children to the nearest school because of a lack of affordable transport.

Today’s launch of the report, outside the House of Commons, will be followed by a seminar on its conclusions. Panel speakers include Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of The Sutton Trust, Barry Sheerman MP, the Chairman of the Education Select Committee; and Damian Green, the former Shadow Secretary of State for Education.

Sir Peter Lampl, said almost a fifth of traffic on Britain’s roads during the morning rush hour was on the school run, and this figure was rising. “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,” he said. The lack of adequate school transport also had a social cost, he said, because it restricted the school choices of families, particularly in disadvantaged circumstances.

Sir Peter went on, “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 pounds a year, a return of two-and-a-half times the annual 184 million cost.”