Published: 30th APRIL 2021

Transport to Thrive

We've teamed up with the University of the West of England (UWE) to address the transport barriers that young people aged 12 to 24 years face when accessing key life opportunities. We're working with national authorities, local authorities and young people to produce high-quality evidence and insights that support policy action.

What are we doing?

We’re working with the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) on a UK-wide project.

The project aims to address the transport barriers that young people aged 12-24 years face to access the things they need to thrive. We are:

Building evidence on why mobility is important to young people

We are working to understand the importance of mobility on mental health, social development and access to life opportunities.

Assessing policy and practice initiatives

We are assessing how policy and practice can support or block young people from reaching opportunities.

Supporting change

We are bringing together policy and industry stakeholders, providing them with the evidence outputs they need to act.

Throughout the project, we are working with a panel of young advisors. They’re the experts with lived experience providing insight and creativity, and guiding us on project priorities.

Transport to Thrive runs until August 2023.


Young people have specific needs from a transport system

Young people have specific needs from a transport system. This is driven by a number of differences between younger people and older age groups, including:

Financial circumstances

Young people have less disposable income than older age groups, and this can sometimes restrict travel options.

The ways that young people get around

Young people are more likely to use public transport than older age groups. Car ownership is lower amongst young people than it is for other age groups, and it is declining over time.

The places that young people need to go

Being young is a time to reach education, training, apprenticeships and first jobs. Not all of these places are well-served by transport options that are available to young people.


Transport for young people’s healthy futures

The decisions that we make when young can have long-term outcomes on skills development, future income, personal and professional networks, and ultimately health outcomes.

For example, you may not pursue your preferred choice of courses because transport options to the college that offers them are complicated and expensive. You might instead make do with your second or third choice because they are easier to get to.

Or perhaps you don’t accept a promising job offer because public transport options don’t run at the times you need. You might instead wait for a more viable job offer even though it’s less desirable.

Younger people must make many of these types of decision. And these decisions can have implications that resonate much further down the line.


What is the problem?

Very little consideration is given to the impacts of transport policy and planning decisions on young people.

This can be seen in the mismatch between the way that transport investment has been prioritised and the needs of young people.

This is problematic since mobility is important for young people to develop, learn, expand horizons and ultimately thrive.

Currently, our transport systems are excluding many young people from these opportunities.

Transport to Thrive aims to raise the profile of 12-24-year-olds with decision-makers through collecting evidence and insights.  

Want to know more about the project?

If you are a local, regional, or national authority, transport provider or organisation interested in supporting the needs of young people in your work, please email to find out more.

You can also subscribe to the Sustrans newsletter to receive updates straight to your inbox about this project.


Young People’s Future Health Inquiry

This project is part of the Health Foundation’s Young People’s Future Health Inquiry.

And it's is one of five policy posts making the case for policies to enable young people to thrive.

The RSA is exploring economic security.

The Institute for Employment Studies and the Resolution Foundation are exploring access to high-quality work.

And the Association for Young People’s Health is addressing the inequalities faced by different groups of young people

Together, we aim to amplify young people’s voices and place their needs at the heart of decision-making across a range of policy areas.

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The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK.

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Take a look at some of our other projects across the UK