Leapfrog Bus: Increasing the mobility of under-fives to improve health

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Leapfrog Bus is an innovative transport service that encourages families with under-fives to leave the house and explore their neighbourhoods safely. Positive travel experiences are created using double-decker buses, allowing families to become more familiar with the transport system and broaden travel horizons.

This service was developed and funded as part of the Knee High Design Challenge (a partnership between the Design Council, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, and Lambeth and Southwark Councils). This Challenge specifically set out to support new ideas for raising the health and wellbeing of children under five years old. Evidence shows that the first five years of a child’s life are critical to cognitive development, non-cognitive development and later life outcomes.

Many families experience long periods of isolation and loneliness after the birth of a child. Both practically and emotionally it can become very difficult to leave the house and stay connected with the outside community, particularly as families are becoming increasingly spread out, and people’s social networks are no longer local. Transport is recognised to have an influence on the ability of families to leave the house.

Adopting a design-led approach in developing a ‘family-friendly’ bus revealed the complexities for parents travelling in London. Families are particularly reliant on buses as many reported that the tube was largely inaccessible due to lack of lifts at stations. Some of the common problems that families face using buses include: feeling judged by others if their children were noisy; feeling of anxious if the bus was busy; having to wait for several buses to go by during rush hour before being able to board; conflict with other users due to lack of space on the bus; and being unable to travel with other friends with children.

Through co-design, a bus service was developed that overcame some of these issues. The service is exclusive for families and meets them away from busy roads before travelling direct to a set destination. Families can meet in a non-judgemental space, with the universality of the bus itself as non-stigmatising. By avoiding transport interchanges families can travel further. As a result, Leapfrog Bus combines a social activity, access to social networks, and transport thus promoting social connectivity. In addition, guaranteeing access to transport can relieve stress whilst travelling outside the home.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event1st International Conference on Transport and Health - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Jul 20158 Jul 2015


Conference1st International Conference on Transport and Health
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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