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Wednesday, 8 August, 2001, 07:25 GMT 08:25 UK
US buses for Yorkshire schools
Yellow school bus
An American icon drives through Marble Arch in London
The latest attempt to reduce the traffic on the school run is to be introduced in West Yorkshire - with the introduction of American-style yellow buses.

The school buses, which are set to be in service from the beginning of next year, will collect children from their homes in villages in the Pennines.

UK school run
School run accounts for 15% to 20% of traffic
7% of primary pupils travel to school by bus
9% primary pupils travel to school unaccompanied
Pupils being driven to school doubled in past decade
In mid-1970s only 15% pupils were taken to school by car

The single-decker vehicles, imported from the United States, are among the latest of their kind to be used in the United Kingdom.

It is hoped that the door-to-door service might persuade more parents to allow their children to use public transport to get to school - and to cut down the number of parents using their own cars.

There will be two buses serving local primary schools and will mean that the yellow bus - a familiar sight from small-town America - will be seen winding through Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall.

Parents will have to pay a small charge for the service - with the price still to be decided.

Calderdale council, which has helped to set up the scheme, says that this is an attempt to reduce school-run congestion.

Safety

"Anyone driving will appreciate the difference in traffic between the holidays and term time - and schools in Hebden Bridge have real parking problems," says road safety officer, Peter Shepherdson.

The door-to-door service, he says, will be intended to reassure parents who have safety fears about their children travelling to school unaccompanied.

Every child will have a seat belt, each child will have a designated seat and the bus will only be carrying pupils back and forth from school, with no other passengers or routes.

Research had evaluated the bus to be 70 times safer than a conventional bus, said Mr Shepherdson.

And he said that the added safety and the savings in time and hassle for parents would persuade them to put children on the bus, rather than drive them to school.

Yellow buses from the United States are already taking children to school in Staffordshire.

The local authority's fleet of 15 yellow buses had been a "roaring success" in cutting congestion and taking children to school safely.

In the United Kingdom, there has been a decline in pupils walking, cycling or getting buses to school - with a corresponding rise in parents driving children to the school gates.

'Walking bus'

FirstGroup, the UK-registered transport company that is a partner in the Yorkshire project, says that 54% of primary age children in the US take buses to school, compared with 7% in the UK.

The company wants to have a 100 buses taking children to school next year in the UK.

This is the latest in a long-running series of initiatives to dissuade parents from using their cars to take children to school.

Health campaigns, anti-pollution drives and the sociability of public transport have all been used to promote a message of using alternatives to the school run.

As well as using real buses, schools have been encouraged to use "walking buses", in which primary pupils and teachers walk together on routes to and from school.

See also:

13 Jun 00 | Americas
UK may get yellow school buses
22 May 00 | Education
Pupils prefer gossip to school run
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