Working towards a Public Bus Policy to Increase Public Transport to School and Physical Activity Rates among Adolescents in Dunedin
In developed countries, adolescents’ obesity rates are increasing while physical activity is decreasing. Transport to school can be a significant contributor to daily physical activity among adolescents. However, many adolescents are nowadays being driven to school by their parents or guardians, as it is often perceived to be the most ‘convenient’ transport mode. On the contrary, public transport journeys usually involve at least some physical activity (usually walking) and therefore could contribute to increasing physical activity in adolescents when active transport to school is not feasible. This study aims to determine aspects that should be considered when developing a public transport to school policy for adolescents. It examines the barriers and enablers of public transport to school among Dunedin adolescents and builds on the existing work conducted in Dunedin as a part of the Built Environment and Active Transport to School: BEATS Study. This research uses data from BEATS Study focus groups conducted with adolescents and parents, as well as interviews with school principals. The researcher also conducted interviews with policy-makers from the Dunedin City Council, the Otago Regional Council, and the New Zealand Transport Agency.Findings from adolescents, parents and school principals showed that distance to school, cost, parental trip chaining, built environment features and the weather, represent major barriers to using public transport to school among Dunedin adolescents. Findings from policy-makers showed that enticing adolescents to use public transport to travel to school is challenging in a society with an embedded car culture. In addition, transport planners are restricted as to what they can do in terms of promoting public health through transit walking due to restrictions of legislation at the national level in New Zealand. The role of technology and real-time information was highlighted as a key strategy by policy-makers to entice adolescents to use public transport to travel school, as it can address some of the barriers mentioned by students, parents and school principals. The findings from this study were used to develop a set of recommendations that could be used to inform policy-makers of what aspects should be considered when developing a public transport to school policy for adolescents as one of the avenues for increasing physical activity in this age-group.
Advisor: Ergler, Christina; Mandic, Sandra
Degree Name: Master of Planning
Degree Discipline: Geography
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Public; Transport; Active; Adolescents; School; Policy; Dunedin
Research Type: Thesis