HC Deb 20 July 2004 vol 424 c147
10. Mr. Ben Chapman (Wirral, South) (Lab)

What plans he has to encourage the introduction of yellow school buses. [184924]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. David Jamieson)

Both the Department for Transport and the Department for Education and Skills recognise that well-designed, dedicated bus schemes can reduce car dependency for the journey to school. The Department for Transport is providing £18.7 million to support a large-scale pilot in West Yorkshire and, subject to affordability, will consider further proposals submitted through the local transport plan process.

Mr. Chapman

Given that yellow school buses have the potential to remove congestion, eliminate the school run, improve air quality and the environment, allow local authorities to rationalise their transport arrangements and provide a safer and more disciplined way to get kids to school, ought we not to do more? Can I expect to hear more on the subject of school buses later today?

Mr. Jamieson

On the latter point, my hon. Friend will have to wait a few more minutes, and perhaps he will hear something on that. He is absolutely correct: getting children on to buses and out of the car is very important in reducing congestion and improving air quality outside schools. We must be careful, however, to ensure that encouraging the use of buses does not divert children from walking and cycling to school, which are better for their health. He will probably be aware that in September last year we published the "Travelling to School" action plan and good practice guide. We have also provided £7.5 million to local authorities for school travel advisers, all of which will help improve the journey to school, and particularly the take-up of school buses.