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Pupils make smart moves to travel challenge victory!

Christine Cahoon   Mon 15 Jun 2015   updated: Thu 22 Oct 2015

Translink & Eco Schools celebrate rise in school sustainable journeys

Translink and Eco Schools have joined forces to reward local schools who have made smart moves to tackle car dependency in Northern Ireland by choosing to use more sustainable transport.

Over a two week period, pupils in 31 local schools participated in the ‘Translink Eco Schools Travel Challenge’ with 1176 pupils monitoring their travel patterns and making an effort to walk, cycle, use the bus or train for the school run.

During the Challenge, there was a massive shift away from car use to sustainable travel meaning over half of all journeys made were sustainable, totalling a distance of 37,027km. If all 1,178 schools (320,000 pupils) in Northern Ireland took part in the challenge adopting a similar percentage of sustainable journeys, an estimated 453,108 litres of fuel could be saved annually and 1,365,712 car journeys per year could be removed from local roads, significantly reducing congestion at school gates.

Ulidia Integrated College – Carrickfergus, St Ciaran’s Primary School, Cushendun, St Colmcille’s PS – Downpatrick and Holy Cross PS – Atticall were the top performers in the initiative that aimed to encourage school pupils and parents to choose more environmentally-friendly transport modes.

The Eco Schools Green Flag Award also went to Barbour Nursery School, Dundonald PS, Ulidia Integrated College, St Malachy’s PS – Camlough, St Joseph’s Nursery School, Antrim and St Bride’s Primary School in Belfast following successful completion of the travel challenge.

Termoncanice Primary School – Limavady also won an Ulsterbus Tours educational class coach trip and day out in Dublin.

Speaking at a Prize Giving Ceremony in Belfast Central Station, Gordon Milligan, Translink Chief HR & Corporate Services Officer, said:

“Congratulations to all 31 schools who have successfully completed the travel challenge. You’re all ‘smart movers’ embracing the lifestyle benefits of sustainable transport.

“Leaving the car at home, offers parents and pupils many advantages: more free time on board bus or rail services to relax and de-stress; save money with good value tickets; use free WiFi;, reduce journey times; avoid parking issues; produce less pollution and improve health by introducing regular exercise into daily routines.

“Last year, over 80 million bus and rail passenger journeys were made in Northern Ireland – an increase of 2.8 million fare-paying passengers in the past three years – as more and more people make the smart move to a more sustainable and attractive lifestyle.

“We were pleased to work in partnership with Eco Schools to deliver the travel challenge and look forward to educating more pupils about the benefits of sustainable travel,” said Gordon.

Carmel Fyfe, Eco-Schools Manager, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said:

"The Translink Eco-Schools Travel Challenge is a fun way to educate our young people on the positive reasons for using sustainable transport and it is wonderful to see so many pupils getting involved.

"Encouraging sustainable transport use is a key topic in the Eco-Schools programme and we are delighted to once again be supported by Translink with the Travel Challenge which is a great way for schools to work towards achieving the prestigious Eco-Schools Green Flag. Congratulations to all those schools which participated in the challenge."

Schools interested in participating in the next Translink Eco-Schools Travel Challenge as part of the Eco-Schools Awards Scheme can call 028 9073 6920 or click www.translink.co.uk/ecoschools/. For details on Ulsterbus Tours Educational Trips click www.ulsterbustours.com or call 028 9033 7004.