Free Bus Travel for Teens Reduces Traffic Injuries & Benefits Environment

First London's HyFLEET:CUTE hydrogen fuel cell bus showing the six roof mounted hydrogen fuel tanks (Photo: Wikipedia-Creative Commons-Spsmiler)
First London’s HyFLEET:CUTE hydrogen fuel cell bus showing the six roof mounted hydrogen fuel tanks (Photo: Wikipedia-Creative Commons-Spsmiler)

In what seems to me to be a no-brainer, the British Medical Journal confirms that the availability of free bus travel in London helps reduce auto-related accidents involving teenagers. In a press-release to EurekAlert, they write:

The researchers wanted to assess the public health impact of giving teens in London free bus travel. The scheme was introduced for 12 to 16 year olds in 2005, and for 17 year olds in 2006.

They therefore used data from the London Area Transport Survey and London Travel Demand Surveys to calculate the number of journeys made in London—as well as distance and principal mode of travel—before (2001-4) and after (2005-9) the scheme was introduced.

And they looked at official data on traffic injuries and hospital admissions to see if the scheme had any noticeable effects on personal safety.

What the researchers found was that “rates of road traffic casualties had started falling before the introduction of the scheme, and continued to fall afterwards, but at a greater rate in young people, largely among passengers and cyclists.”

I am not sure that the study revealed anything about teenage drivers however, since researchers also noted “there was clear evidence of a fall in the number of short journeys cycled and in distances cycled by young people.”

It sounds like the real take-away from the study is that teenagers are safer riding buses in London rather than riding their bicycles (something Miami bicyclists can certainly agree with).

The press release also notes: “The number of daily car journeys taken by young people and adults fell, and the average distance travelled by car also shrank, suggesting that free bus travel prompts a shift away from car use and may therefore be a greener option.”