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HomeRun – helping St Albans schools (and parents) reach Net Zero 

This guest blog has been written by HomeRun, an app and platform for schools, parents, and local authorities, proven to reduce traffic and air pollution on the school run.

What’s the biggest single contributor to morning rush hour traffic? You’ve guessed it: the school run. And with the average journey to school in St Albans running to 4.3 miles, it’s a tough nut to crack. The good news is that, according to our data, in St Albans 43% of pupils walk or cycle, but 32% still drive – and only 7% use public transport. 

Cutting the amount of school runs driven will have a huge impact on the amount of carbon St Albans emits. We know that St Albans parents who have signed up to HomeRun generate 500 tonnes of C02 per annum. The total St Albans figure will be much higher. 

A neighbourhood approach

But a group of St Albans schools are working together to create a neighbourhood approach to tackling congestion. By creating a multi-school shared transport platform for parents and school employees, the aim is to reduce car use, and associated carbon emissions, by 15%.

Working with travel app HomeRun, local schools, including Samuel Ryder Academy, St Albans Girls’ School, Beaumont School, Sandringham School and St Albans High School for Girls, are helping parents plan more sustainable journeys to reduce the impact of the school run on local communities. 

Introducing HomeRun 

The app works to help reduce CO2 through promoting alternatives to low-occupancy car usage. By connecting nearby parents, it enables them to form walking or bike buses, car-sharing and even electric mini buses – all small habit changes, which, when compounded, make a big impact on the school run. 

The app also collects anonymised travel data to help schools and local authorities make more informed transport decisions.

The scheme is off to a strong start, with over 1,000 parents already using the app.

Working together

Cllr Eric Buckmaster, Executive Member for The Environment at Hertfordshire County Council said:

“We are really pleased with the initial results from the HomeRun pilot, which has produced some impressive data in the first few months. 

Increasing active travel and reducing the number of cars on the road on the school run will have a positive impact on our Sustainable Hertfordshire ambitions to deliver cleaner air for all by 2030, and to become a net-zero greenhouse gas county before 2050.”

Sustainable St Albans trustee, Helen Burridge, said, “Whether you’re walking to school down the Nickey Line or the Alban Way, scooting to preschool or riding your bike to college, active travel reduces congestion on the road, improves air quality, reduces carbon emissions, positively impacts nature and improves your mental and physical health too. 

We’re delighted to see that HomeRun has launched at a number of schools around the district and our Schools working group will continue to engage with teachers and families to encourage the move out of cars and onto active travel.” 

Lessons from the home front

The HomeRun app was founded by Pooya Kamvari, who was inspired to take action after witnessing the traffic and disruption caused each day by the school run in the equally congested area of Hampstead where he grew up. 

As well as St Albans, HomeRun Neighbourhoods have also been set up in Hampstead and Belsize Park, Dulwich and Cambridge.

“We’ve been really impressed with the appetite for sustainability and productivity that we’ve come across with schools in St. Albans, with more schools coming forward to be part of the programme,” says Pooya. 

“The schools have done a very good job of promoting this initiative to the parents, and both the schools and parents have been very active. We’re really finding out that not only is there demand for journey sharing, but also we’re finding gaps in transport provisions, which we’re going to look at and work with Hertfordshire County Council to make them aware of.” 

As St Albans residents will be aware, a solution that reduces traffic in the area will be a huge benefit to everyone, not just parents and children.

Hampstead has a more established HomeRun network of schools, and the data so far is impressive. A case study by numbers:

  • Adopted in 9 local schools 
  • 26% reduction in car usage overall by parents signed up to HomeRun
  • 28% reduction in CO2 emissions
  • 22% increase in active travel (walking, cycling etc)
  • 420 tonnes of CO2 per annum saved – the equivalent of planting 20,000 mature trees

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