Examining the Impact of the Walking School Bus With an Agent-Based Model

Changing aspects of walking school bus (WSB) programs or adding other interventions can maximize the effectiveness of this program in increasing active transport to school (ATS).


  • In this study, WSB and educational interventions had a synergistic effect on ATS.
  • In a modeled scenario with 7.6% of children using ATS without WSB, this percentage increased to 15.1% with WSB alone, 12.7% with education components, and 23.1% with both components together, in a school of 250 children.
  • The WSB was more effective at increasing ATS in lower population densities in this model.
  • Increasing group walking speed was more effective than reducing an individual child’s waiting time at improving participation.
  • The highest percentage of ATS occurred when WSB routes were added two blocks from school; routes that were too close overlapped in students within the participating area, but distance became a barrier for routes further from school.


  • This study used a theoretical, agent-based model to simulate interactions between people and their environments in a hypothetical city. The model included variables for traffic safety concerns and children’s attitudes toward active travel to school.
  • The study tested the effects of an educational campaign, walking speed and waiting time, and walking school bus routes at different population densities and school populations.

Yang, Y., Diez-Rouz, A., Evenson, K.R., Colabianchi, N. (2015). Examining the Impact of the Walking School Bus With an Agent-Based Model. American Journal of Public Health, 104(7), 1196-1203.

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