Background and aim: This paper was conceptualised and informed by discussions at the 2nd Workshop in a UKTRC funded series on 'Social Impacts and Equity in Transport'. Presentations made by a range of stakeholders as well as a specially commissioned play stimulated our thoughts on how to encourage better interaction between health and transport researchers. We chose school travel as a case study as it exemplifies two key aspects of the wider transport and health debates; (i) the increasing trend towards reliance on car travel, described here in the context of sedentary lifestyles, traffic congestion, pollution, and parental attitudes, and (ii) school travel occurs at a critical life-stage during which behaviour patterns are formed that are likely to be influential in later life, thus making it an important target point for interventions. Methods: We present evidence from four distinct, but complementary, theoretical perspectives: transport, exposure, behaviour and sustainability. We draw common lessons and identify challenges using a range of conceptual frameworks: integrated psychological model of transport choices, Dahlgren and Whitehead's 'layers of influence' model, Hosking et al.'s 'pathways from transport to health', and Hanlon et al.'s integral theory. We demonstrate the benefits and challenges of holistic interaction and collaboration between disciplines to better understand the key issues and develop policy interventions that are meaningful and effective. Results and conclusions: None of the pre-existing conceptual models were fully able to encompass the societal and individual level influences on school travel. However, we present an interim model for further discussion and debate.