Elizabeth Wilson, Associate Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
This project evaluates the effects on children's school travel of new information and transportation technologies and by changes to education and transportation policy. This research begins to address several important questions, including: How can ITS technology be effectively employed to address school travel, and how does its impact vary by age of student and travel distance? How can children's travel to school be most accurately simulated, accounting for issues of school choice, to address congestion and safe routes to school? A basic understanding of how children travel to school and which factors influence parents' decisions for school travel mode is critical for the deployment of innovative information and transportation technologies but has not yet been established. This research aims to establish accurate baseline information to evaluate how new forms of information, emerging transportation technologies, and other possible changes to education or transportation policy could affect children's school travel. Numerous factors influence child school travel mode choice. Frequently studied factors include school siting (number, size, and location), school bus policy, student participation in extra-curricular activities, and possibly urban form. Less studied factors include opportunities for technologies and school choice. To understand these factors, researchers developed and conducted a household child travel survey with parents of St. Paul and Roseville public school students to better understand and model school travel. The survey inquired into the frequency of travel to and from school, parent perceptions, and attitudes concerning school and travel mode choice, and child and household characteristics. The analysis of existing school travel reflects two eras of elementary school siting, varying school choice, and dissimilar urban form. This analysis supports the development of statistical models of factors influencing school travel mode. From this, the potential influence on school travel mode of alternate school choice policies and potential opportunities for transportation technologies within this system can be estimated.