Is private-schooling problematic for transportation? Evidence from Southeast Queensland, Australia
Keywords:Journeys-to-school; private school; public school; urban form; travel behavior difference
School travel behaviors are associated with children’s health and well-being, traffic congestion, and sustainability. Australia has seen a steady rise in the number of car-passenger trips made by children to school, and a decline in walking-to-school. Australia differs from most nations in that it has one of the highest rates of private schooling in the world at around 34%, supported by high levels of Commonwealth Government funding. Little is known about the effects this has on travel behavior and whether it is a factor in Australia’s high rates of chauffeuring. This paper looks at journeys-toschool in South-East Queensland. Two research questions were posed: i) how do students in private and public schools travel to school, including mode shares and median trip-distances by mode?; and ii) is there any relationship between school type and mode choice, when controlling for key demographic and land use variables? Advanced geo-spatial matching allocated all trips made to schools in the 2017-2019 South East Queensland Travel Survey to either public or private schools. The resulting dataset included 2600 public school students’ trips to school and 1117 private school students’ trips to school. The public and private schools’ commuting travel behavior was then examined. Private motor vehicle is the most frequently chosen mode for travelling to school across the two groups (72.3% for public and 74.6% for private). The proportion of students walking/biking to school is 2.3 times greater for public than for private schools (16.8% versus 7.3%) even though those two groups share the same median trip distance value in active travel. For all other travel modes (automobile, public transportation and school bus), median trip distances are greater for private school students than private school students. Multinomial logistic regression modelling suggests that private school students are less likely to walk/cycle to school than public school students when controlling for key demographics and schools’ urban form characteristics. Private schools appear to disproportionately contribute to traffic congestion. Australia should consider amending its school policy frameworks to help address these concerns.
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