This study examines efforts at ten locations in urban, suburban, and rural areas of Washington state to reduce auto use around schools. Elementary and middle school efforts emphasized and facilitated alternatives to car trips through walking school buses, website networking, school-based campaigns, and infrastructure improvements. High school and higher education programs provided pre-paid transit service and transportation education. Key strengths of these efforts were integration into a larger policy framework, and listening and learning from customers. Elementary and middle schools programs that used education and encouragement along with engineering improvements and traffic law enforcement (the Safe Routes to School approach) and adapted to parent needs reduced auto congestion. Education and encouragement may also be beneficial for high school students. At the college/university level, mandatory universal transit/unlimited access passes reduced congestion. All efforts faced barriers, namely congestion reduction is not a primary mission of schools, and there is no larger policy framework to motivate change or site schools in ways that make alternative modes of transportation feasible. The lack of disincentives for driving, such as regulating drop-offs at K-8 schools or charging and managing parking at high schools and universities, limits the potential of trip reduction programs. The study concludes that auto congestion around schools can be reduced by state policies that set targets to reduce auto use and increase walking/bicycling, update school siting and performance standards, expand the Safe Routes to School approach and align it with TDM efforts, and require all colleges and universities to implement universal transit/ unlimited access pass programs.
Washington State Transportation Center (TRAC)
Travel demand management, Schools, Traffic congestion, Public transit, Walking, Traffic law enforcement, Transportation policy, Universities and colleges, Education and training.