On the 12th February this year, a summit was held to discuss how Newcastle could become carbon neutral by 2030, following a climate emergency having been declared in the city in April 2019. The ideas put forward during this summit included investing in electric taxis, rejecting plans for a new coal mine and making it compulsory for businesses to report on what actions they were taking to reduce their carbon footprint.
One of the more surprising suggestions put forward at the summit was to limit school catchment areas by more strictly allocating the number of school places given to pupils based on postcodes. This idea was suggested to cut down on the need for school run car journeys that travel across the city every day.
Given that one in four cars on the road during rush hour come as a result of parents driving their children to and from school, limiting catchment areas would likely have a positive effect in this regard, but is it really the best solution? Preventing parents from sending their child to school, just because of where they live, seems excessive – particularly when the solutions needed to revolutionise home-to-school travel already exist.
Instead of slashing catchment areas to stop school car journeys altogether, parents and local authorities should look to encourage more sustainable transport choices that don’t require individual car journeys to be used around the city – such as shared home-to-school transport.
With this in mind, we’ve noted some recommendations for how Newcastle council leaders can tackle the issue of the school run, and how home-to-school transport can reduce the number of single-occupancy car journeys throughout the city every day.
Show parents the benefits of shared school transport
To encourage parents away from transporting their children to school every day in cars, advocating the many benefits a school bus service offers would be a fantastic place for Newcastle councilors to start.
With just one 49-seater Kura school bus, up to 31 cars can be taken off the road at a time. This addresses the council’s idea to reduce a school’s catchment area as the number of single use trips can be drastically reduced when parents send their children on a bus service.
Sending children to school on a Kura coach also holds many specific benefits to parents. Not only does it free up time that would previously have been spent dropping children at school, but parents are offered with a wealth of security and tracking features. By allocating pupils with a Kura-powered tracking fob, parents receive real-time updates on their child’s journey and know exactly when their child arrives both at home and at school.
Our recent Green School Run guide, for which we surveyed 1,000 parents with school-age children, found that safety and transparency are among the most important motivations for parents choosing to send their child on a shared transport service. If Newcastle’s school leaders and councils work to address these reasons why parents get into the car each day, and put parents’ safeguarding concerns at the forefront, more and more parents will opt to send their child on school transport over getting into the car every morning.
Cutting crippling traffic congestion
According to research by charity, Friends of the Earth, Newcastle accounted for six of the 10 worst areas for air pollution in the North East. Much of this is caused by the amount of road traffic on the streets – making vehicle congestion a major concern for the city.
This congestion is due to a build-up of heavy traffic, meaning that vehicles tend to travel at slower speeds over the same distance – in turn making the average journey much longer and increasing the amount of time that cars emit toxic fumes into the atmosphere. The issue is only exacerbated by idling car engines – which are seen all-too-frequently when parents leave their engines running when waiting to pick up their child from outside the school gates.
Our powerful Kura solution tackles all of these concerns. Not only does shared school transport take cars off the road and help to reduce congestion, but engine-idling is diminished as parents’ single car journeys are no longer required.
Let’s revolutionise the school run – together
Overall, while the solution to solving both regional and national climate crises is multi-faceted, there is no doubt that taking cars off the road – for which a greener, safer school run is integral – will be key.
Whether you’re a concerned parent, school or even a councillor, you have a role to play in revolutionising your local school run and, in turn, cleaning up your air. With the right expert partner by your side, the sky is the limit – and that’s where we come in. Drop us a line (we’re a friendly bunch!) and let’s have a chat about how we can work together to create a cleaner, greener future.