Welsh Minister for Local Government and Communities Carl Sargeant joined charity Sustrans Cymru to launch the start of the four-year, £4million Wales-wide project called Personalised Travel Planning (PTP) at Ysgol Melin Gruffydd in Cardiff.
The surge in peak-time car traffic this week resulting from pupils across Wales starting their autumn term (one in five cars on the road at 8.50am on a weekday is doing the school run) demonstrates the need for such a project.
The Minister said:
"We are fully committed to delivering a truly sustainable transport system across Wales and by providing people with realistic and enjoyable alternatives to the car we can change people’s attitudes towards transport.
‘The benefits of using sustainable transport are wide ranging, from enjoying healthy exercise as you walk or cycle to work to reducing congestion in our towns and cities. Everybody benefits as we change our attitude to travel and the PTP project is part of the process of achieving our commitment to developing a truly sustainable transport system across Wales."
Lee Waters, Sustrans Cymru Director, said;
"Many pupils are driven from their front doors to the school gates yet the average journey to school for primary aged pupils is just 1.6 miles. This is one example of where, given the right information about alternative ways to travel, more people could leave their cars at home.
"We’ll work with people at school, work and home, helping them to make changes to their daily travel choices when and where it suits them. If each family replaced one car journey a week with a more sustainable alternative it can make a big difference. Taking this approach in areas of England has shown a reduction in car trips of at least 10 per cent. It’s an ambitious project with the potential to bring about sustained change in the way the people of Wales use their cars."
The project is being funded by Welsh Government and led by Sustrans Cymru and partners Socialdata with Cardiff Council and Vale of Glamorgan Council during the first phase, which will see 63,000 households across the city contacted over the next 12 months. The intention is then to roll-out the project to Pontypridd, Barry and Caerphilly. It will then be delivered in other Sustainable Transport Centres in Wales, beginning with Mon a Menai next year.
The financial benefits of a healthier, more active population, reduced congestion and reduced emissions are significant. For instance, the benefits to the country from reduced congestion alone results in savings of around £4 for every £1 invested in PTP - significantly more than traditional transport projects.
Executive Member for Traffic and Transportation, Cllr Lisa Ford, said:
"Cardiff Council is proud to be involved in the first phase of the personalised travel planning project in Wales. The project builds on the Council’s joint venture with the Welsh Government in the delivery of the Cardiff Sustainable Travel City project. We hope that the information that the personalised travel planning project provides will help people to consider how they travel and as a result will use forms of sustainable travel for more journeys."