The indicator concerns those journeys to work which are made by public transport or require some form of activity, such as walking or cycling. Essentially, we want to encourage a shift from the car, particularly for short journeys, across the whole population. Not only will this reduce congestion and improve health by reducing harmful emissions and improving air quality, it will enable people in Scotland to live longer and healthier lives by making it easier to incorporate physical activity into daily routines.
Between 1990 and 2007, carbon emissions from the transport sector (including international aviation & shipping) increased by 11.5%, from 13.1 to 14.6 Mega tonnes of Carbon Dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e). Between 2007 and 2009 emissions have fallen to 13.6 MtCO2e, a 6.8% fall since 2007 but still above the 1990 base year total of 13.1 MtCO2e. The only sectors showing growth in emissions between 2008 and 2009 were road and rail. Road transport remains by far the biggest source of transport emissions, accounting for around 70% in 2009. Although emissions from cars have fallen since their peak in 2002, they still contribute 60% of Scottish road transport emissions. Further general information on emissions in Scotland and links to data sources can be found at the Sustainability Purpose Target.
The Health Education Population Survey (HEPS) has found generally low levels of physical activity in Scotland, with most people failing to achieve recommended levels of activity (30 minutes, five times a week). Hand-in-hand with this is an increase in obesity - for those aged 16-64, the 2008 Scottish Health Survey estimated that 25% of men and 26% of women in Scotland are obese, an increase from 16% of men and 17% of women in 1995.
In 2009/10, the Scottish Household Survey Travel Diary reported that half of all commuting journeys in Scotland were under 6km, with a quarter less than 2km. Three quarters of car journeys were less than 13km.
First and foremost is the ability to get to work in a way that is convenient, affordable and reliable. Further influences include weather conditions, access to a car, availability of parking and distance to work. A number of trends affect individual decisions on housing and workplace location and increase the pressure to travel further to work.
- Increasing specialisation of employment, even in relatively unskilled occupations
- Ease of travel
- Wide variations in the cost of housing - particularly in parts of central Scotland
- Concentration of employment on larger sites, necessarily distant from some homes
- Rise in the proportion of households with two or more workers, each with specialist skills
- Concentration of other activities - of which travel to work is just a part
Investment in public transport (rail, tram and bus), travel information, cycling and walking infrastructure, and 'Smart Measures' are all part of current government action.
Transport Scotland is working to improve services and service times between our major cities. This work includes: faster and additional services from Edinburgh to Glasgow Central; electrification and enhancement of capacity throughout the Edinburgh-Glasgow-Dunblane triangle; and the completion of the Airdrie-Bathgate rail link.
The Bus Services Operators Grant links payments to reducing emissions as well as supporting improved accessibility and lower fares to encourage increased bus use and service provision. Elsewhere, funding is being provided for Transport Direct and Traveline Scotland to develop travel information systems.
On active travel, the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland (June 2010) sets out policy actions and commitments that will help achieve a vision of 10% of all journeys by bike by 2020. We fund Sustrans to develop cycling infrastructure across Scotland, particularly the National Cycle Network. Cycling Scotland delivers cycling promotion activity, including community/workplace engagement, and school cycle training (Bikeability). The Cycling, Walking and Safer Streets capital grants to local authorities also support active travel.
In relation to wider sustainable transport promotion, the Energy Saving Trust is grant-funded to support organisations / businesses around transition to low carbon transport. We are also supporting CarPlus to establish a network of new Car Clubs, providing alternatives to private car ownership. Regional Transport partnerships undertake a range of activities to encourage sustainable travel choices, including promotion of liftsharing.
In 2015, 31.4% of people travelled to work by public or active transport. In 2016, this decreased to 30.6%, a 0.8 percentage point difference. Since this difference is less than 2 percentage points, this suggest performance is more likely to be maintaining than showing any change.
The data is available at the bottom of the page.
The patterns seen for age and gender reflect travel trends more generally, that is men are more likely to hold a driving licence and drive regularly and younger and older people are less likely to hold a driving licence and more likely to use public transport.
Women are more likely than men to use public or active transport to travel to work, with about one in three women using public or active transport in 2014 compared to around one in four men. The gap between men and women has remained fairly stable since 2004 at between 5 and 8 percentage points..
Those aged 16-24 are more likely to use public or active transport than other age groups, with 39% of 16-24 year olds using public or active transport to travel to work in 2015, compared to 31% those aged 25-64.
Since 1999 there has been little change around a fluctuating but generally steady trend in the proportion of people using public or active transport, either for the whole population or by age band.
Differences in transport use and travel patterns in urban and rural areas mean that those living in the most deprived areas of Scotland consistently show the highest levels of use of public or active transport, as do those in large urban areas. In 2015, 41% of those living in the most deprived areas use public or active transport to get to work (similar to the proportion for large urban areas), compared to 27% in the least deprived areas and 15% for remote rural areas. This difference is because public transport is more regular and commutes are likely to be shorter in urban areas so walking and cycling become more practical options. In rural areas car ownership is more of a necessity in order to travel longer distances.
The data is available at the bottom of the page.
The evaluation is based on: any difference within +/- 2 percentage points of last year's figure suggests that the position is more likely to be maintaining than showing any change. An increase of 2 percentage points or more suggests the position is improving; whereas a decrease of 2 percentage points or more suggests the position is worsening.
For information on general methodological approach, please click here.
Scotland Performs Technical Note
Energy Saving Trust
Regional Transport Partnerships
Safer and Stronger
Wealthier and Fairer