Quantifying the impacts of subsidy policies on home-to-school pupil travel by bus in England

Van Ristell, Jessica A., Quddus, Mohammed A., Enoch, Marcus P., Wang, Chao and Hardy, Peter (2015) Quantifying the impacts of subsidy policies on home-to-school pupil travel by bus in England. Transportation, 42(1), pp. 45-69. ISSN (print) 0049-4488


In the current economic climate, the British Government is revising a whole range of policy sectors to highlight areas where savings and cuts can be made. The policy of subsidising home-to-school transport for pupils who live beyond a set distance from the school which they attend has been in place since 1944 and this policy costs local authorities in England over £1 billion a year. The aim of this paper is to examine the outcomes of policy choices facing Government relating to subsidising the transport of pupils travelling between home and school. Specifically, the paper employs a multilevel modelling technique to develop a series of relationships between bus usage by school and the level of spending by local education authorities on home-to-school bus travel provision while controlling for other factors such as school quality, land-use patterns and various proxies for household incomes. The results suggest that there is a differential effect of funding on the total school-level bus mileage for primary (aged \textless11), secondary (aged 11-16) and post 16 schools. It is found that if local authority school budgets for bus travel provision were removed, then school-level bus mileage in England would decrease by 16, 27 and 10 % for primary, secondary and post 16 schools respectively. It is hoped that the results of the study will help inform practitioners and policy makers to select the policy responses that are most appropriate.

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