Independence through Austerity: Travel Training for those most in need

At the recent ACT TravelWise conference, Sian Fox (Principal Consultant, SYSTRA) and Orlagh Stoner (Thinktravel programme manager, Gloucestershire County Council) presented on the topic of 'Independence through Austerity: Travel Training for those most in need'.

Travel training has been on the radar of local authorities for many years, with some having well developed travel training schemes in place.  However, some are only now investing and realising the potential of this concept to benefit their work, local area and individuals.  Travel training is the ability to inspire confidence in individuals to enhance their capabilities to travel on their own, and therefore gain a wide range of new experiences which will benefit them personally, their families and friends and the wider society they live in.  This links closely to the three key principles of sustainability: environment, economic, and social benefits.

Undertaking travel training within a local authority can have significant positive benefits on these principles.  This includes economic savings to specialist transport services, encouraging more development opportunities and reducing the environmental impact where possible of specialist transport services.  Currently, the team at SYSTRA are delivering the travel training element of Gloucestershire County Council’s Thinktravel project, Gloucestershire's smarter choices programme.

Through this project, we are working closely with many departments across the local authority, including Access to Learning, Strategic Planning and Passenger Transport teams, demonstrating the diversity and cross sectoral impacts that travel training can have within an area and the differing scales of travel training projects which can exist.  Our travel training programme is working with young people transitioning to college or work, with job seekers who find transport a barrier to gaining employment and with any individual who may be low in confidence and need additional help or support to make journeys independently. By adapting our approach, we are running workshops, one to one journey planning, and buddying sessions to suit individuals and their needs.

In addition, one key way to ensure the legacy of this project is through our ‘Train the trainer’ sessions with teachers, support workers and parents, to enable them to continue to support their students, family and friends on their journey to independent travel – a key part of this work as the individuals will require constant support and encouragement to ensure this lifestyle change truly benefits them.  Despite still being in the early stages of this project, we have already learnt a lot about the positive benefits of travel training not just for individuals, but also for local authorities and their local areas, as they are faced with challenging times and budget cuts.

Tailored travel training programmes offer a great opportunity to enhance the overall sustainability of an area, and provide independence through austerity by saving costs where possible, to enable individuals to improve their lifestyles and opportunities.

For more information on our travel training projects and how we can support you, please contact Sian Fox This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.