Summary: Background: The study assessed the impact of two walk to school schemes installed by Transport for London (TfL) and Intelligent Health in London, UK from 2009 to 2010. In Wimbledon TfL installed the scheme (Step2Get) to encourage girls to walk rather than use the free public bus. This was due to severe congestion and overcrowding at peak times. In Bexley Step2Get was installed to divert boys away from a dangerous crossing point and lead them to a safer place to cross the main road. The Study: A series of battery operated receivers containing NFC mobile technology (CredX), were attached to sign posts along the walk route. Each child was issued with an RFID card at the start of term which they swiped on the receivers as they walked to school. This verified a completed walk. The data was collected by the receiver and transmitted by GPRS to a central database and displayed on the child's own website. When they completed a certain number of walks they redeemed a reward that included cinema tickets or shop vouchers. The Step2Get website allowed the child to see how they were progressing and how their form is doing compared to other forms. Results: Surveys carried out by TfL at a key bus stop in Wimbledon showed that the average dwell time between 0750 am and 0820 am fell by 62% during the trial; The number of children unable to board the bus fell by 50%. The number of pick ups during the same morning period fell by 57% from 398 to 149; Out of the 287 children who registered for the scheme 130 (45%) said they would switch to walking from other means of transport. There was a 13-18% modal shift from bus to walking between the two schools. There was a 48% reduction (£848/month) in Police time due to less crowding. The overall Cost Benefit Ratio was 1:24.5. Conclusion: NFC technology combined with rewards has helped children at secondary school to change their mode of travel from bus and car to walking. The system can also be used to re-route children away from dangerous junctions to safer crossing points. The use of incentivisation is a promising and new area of work that needs further trials.
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