The following extract comes from the Department for Transport’s ‘Guidance for full opening: schools’ published 2 July 2020:
Wider public transport
In many areas, pupils normally make extensive use of the wider public transport system, particularly public buses. We expect that public transport capacity will continue to be constrained in the autumn term. Its use by pupils, particularly in peak times, should be kept to an absolute minimum.
To facilitate the return of all pupils to school, it will be necessary to take steps to both depress the demand for public transport and to increase capacity within the system. Both will require action at a national and local level. Schools have a critical role to play in supporting collaboration between all parties – providers, local authorities, parents and pupils.
Schools should work with partners to consider staggered start times to enable more journeys to take place outside of peak hours. We recognise that this option will be more feasible in some circumstances than others.
Schools should encourage parents, staff and pupils to walk or cycle to school if at all possible. Schools may want to consider using ‘walking buses’ (a supervised group of children being walked to, or from, school), or working with their local authority to promote safe cycling routes. The government has announced a £2 billion package to promote cycling and walking, including to support pop-up bicycle lanes and widened pavements. For some families, driving children to school will also be an option.
However, these options will not be suitable for all. The Department for Transport is asking local authorities to:
- urgently work with schools to survey parents on their typical routes to school and potential alternatives
- consider a range of options for shifting demand for public transport onto other modes
- consider using traffic demand management approaches in order to ensure that children are able to attend school from the start of the autumn term
Travel patterns, the availability of vehicles, the length of journeys undertaken, and other local pressures on public transport vary significantly. The government recognises the challenge but is confident that if all available options are considered by all parties it will be possible to reduce demand and ensure transport is available for those who need it most. Experience during the 2012 London Olympics showed that it is possible to make a very real difference to travel patterns where there is a concerted effort to do so and where the general public understand the imperative for doing so.
Families using public transport should refer to the safer travel guidance for passengers.