Does Transition Larkhall Analysis show more than 50% of Bath’s rush hour traffic can be attributed to schools?

Home News & Events Latest News Does Transition Larkhall Analysis show more than 50% of Bath’s rush hour traffic can be attributed to schools?

Transition Larkhall are involved in a a year-long study investigating amongst other things how parents take their children to school and why they choose to travel that way.

Transition Larkhall in conjunction with the University of Bath and the South West Foundation surveyed traffic on 4 successive Mondays between 7.00am and 10.00am, at the Gloucester/London Road junction and on Dead Mill lane:

Date and TimeGloucester Road (Down) towards London Rd

Gloucester road (up) towards A46

Dead Mill Lane (Down) Into Larkhall

Deadmill Lane (Up) towards A46

17.10.2016 All schools at school





24.10.2016 All Schools half-term





31.10.2016 Private schools, Beechen Cliff and Hayesfield half -term





7.11.2016 All schools at school





Traffic turning into Bath along the London Road from Gloucester Road showed more than a 67% reduction (288 down to 124) over half term. On the Monday, after half term when all schools apart from Beechen Cliff, Hayesfield and the private schools only 44% of this traffic returned (124 up to 197).

The group also surveyed traffic turning the other way east towards the A46 and this only dropped by 26%. If this is used as a control i.e. this traffic is less affected by parents taking children to school, but more indicative of general traffic (as there are fewer schools east of Larkhall) then crudely you could infer 41% (67% – 26%) of the traffic turning into town on this junction is caused by school children being ferried to school.

This crude analysis suggests the following:

  • Further investigation is required
  • It might be cheaper for B&NES Council to focus on reducing school run traffic which might account for up to 40% of rush hour traffic than spending £20million on an Eastern Park & Ride which may only have a 5% impact?

Transiton Larkhall’s analysis

  • infers that between 400 and 500 trips in morning peak times consist of parents or carers transporting children to school
  • this compares with peak morning traffic of 1033 along the London Road into town from a previous survey

There are many caveats to this analysis, in particular the survey only looked at traffic turning into the London Road from the Gloucester Road, and not traffic already on the London Road but it does seem that targeting school run traffic might be one relatively cheap solution to Bath’s congestion problems?

A summary of Transition Larkhall’s project appears here and their submission to the West of England Joint Transport consultation here which concludes

There is therefore also an urgent and compelling case for relevant local authorities and service providers to liaise with schools to organise comprehensive services to link outlying areas such as Batheaston, Bathampton and smaller local villages to the main schools which children from these areas attend

“More focussed and local studies, such as the TL one for the Larkhall parallel route to the A4 London Rd., should be undertaken to uncover the precise nature and causes of existing congestion. Such investigation could open up the kind of ‘soft solutions’ to excess traffic volumes, congestion and air pollution illustrated above. In particular, by identifying the interaction between trip rationales, driver decisions and the (in)adequacy of other transport modes – specifically bus services – more economic solutions could be evaluated and pursued. For the particular problems associated with the interaction between the A4 London Rd and Larkhall, we urge that the following low-cost improvements and additions to bus services be investigated.

1) A system of school transport between areas in and to the east of Bath and the private and state schools located in the south and west of the city. A system which would need to be initiated by local authority and supported by relevant bus companies and schools – after an assessment of their pupils’ needs.

2) Investigation of ways in which the disparity in bus services frequencies between those serving the west of Bath and those for the east could be reduced. So that drivers all along the A4 corridor and adjacent points would be attracted to switch to more frequent services on the east. If necessary a bus service from the east direct to the University at Claverton Down could help to expand frequencies; as happens with the student bus services between the city centre and the western periphery; which benefit students and residents alike.

The advantages of giving priority to such soft measures over ‘hard’ capital projects such as the projected Bathampton Park and Ride and the more aspirational A36-A46 link road, would be: substantial cost savings, shorter time horizons to relieve the problems and also the capacity for iterative and rapid adjustments to improve any remaining deficiencies”


Transition Bath agrees with this study and feels that a more significant evidence base of traffic flows and the reasons for those flows needs to be established before B&NES Council can make significant decisions on the £20million Eastern Park & Ride and the A36/A46 link road. Without this evidence, council funds, which are currently in short supply, might be wasted, where much cheaper solutions like a better school bus service might actually make a much bigger difference to congestion in Bath?