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Paper 20th October 2005 - TTSAC(05)5


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1. Introduction

1.1 The purpose of this paper is to inform members of the Committee about recent developments in DfT Transport Statistics.

1.2 If you require any further information about any of the points covered in this paper, you are invited to contact:

Antonia Roberts

direct line: 020 7944 4280

e-mail: antonia.roberts@dft.gsi.gov.uk.

Or, if they prefer, members of the Committee are welcome to raise at the meeting any points which they feel are likely to be of interest to others.

2. Major drivers underlying the development of transport statistics are:

  • DfT's PSA targets,

- to reduce road casualties, in particular in disadvantaged communities;

- to reduce congestion,

- to improve use and quality of rail and local public transport

  • overarching strategies for sustainable transport: DfT's Ten Year Transport Plan
  • the development and monitoring of Regional Transport Strategies
  • supporting Local authorities in monitoring Local Transport Plans;
  • strategies on social exclusion and neighbourhood renewal, in particular in support of the recommendations in the Social Exclusion Unit report on transport and social exclusion, Making the Connections (February 2003);
  • National Statistics standards, particularly those on quality and efficiency;
  • International considerations, particularly EU legislative requirements.
  • responding to and exploiting developments in data sources and IT.

3. Major development tasks

3.1 Road accident statistics

We implemented changes in data collection in January 2005 following the Quality Review of Road Accident Statistics including the collection of information about foreign vehicles involved in accidents, whether the accident happened when the driver was in course of work and contributory factors to accidents which were reported by the police at scene. The results from the new variables will be published in 2006.

We are working with the police on developing a new approach for collecting information about road accidents and casualties needed for police operational purposes and for statistics capable of being implemented on hand-held, digital devices.

3.2 Roads and road traffic

The Quality Review of Road Traffic and Road Length statistics that commenced in 2004 is nearing completion. The report of the review is scheduled to be published late in 2005.

The National Road Maintenance Condition Survey (NRMCS) in England and Wales currently includes visual surveys of defects at sample sites on local roads. The surveys will also provide consistent and comparable information for monitoring road conditions at both national and local level. In England, Best Value Performance indicators for classified roads in 2005/06 must be based on the SCANNER survey data. The way forward on unclassified roads is still under discussion, although the original objective was for these roads to be subject to machine based surveys by 2007/08. Whatever the way forward on machine surveys of unclassified roads, there is a good deal of development work to be done on the development of national reporting from the SCANNER data. This work is now starting to get under way, with a NRMCS user consultation due to go live by the start of October.

The Department is developing new measures of congestion. On the Highways Agency strategic road network, the new PSA target will focus on the improving the reliability of journey times (reducing delays associated with the ten per cent worse journeys). On urban roads, DfT is working closely with Local Authorities to develop a measure of average person delay and associated data collection methods (e.g. bus occupancy and journey times). Work is also on-going to develop and quality assure existing sources of journey time information such as induction loops, automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) and GPS (from the firm ITIS) and explore the potential of other telematic technologies such as mobile phones.

The Highways Agency is taking forward, on behalf of the Department, a project to establish a Roads Information Framework (RIF) across HA and local roads. The aim of RIF is to develop and integrate existing and new data sources on roads (including information on the road network, journey times, traffic, planned and unplanned external events such as incidents and roadworks) and develop presentational/analytical tools to enhance the operational and strategic management of the English road network.

3.3 Bus and coach statistics

DfT has implemented a number of the recommendations of the NS Quality Review of Bus and Coach Statistics as well as a number of other methodological improvements. This year's annual bulletin was published on Thursday 8 September, 11 weeks earlier than normal. This is because the financial questions on the PSV annual return were removed and included on a separate, later return. The results from this later survey will be published on the DfT website on 24 November 2005. Contrary to earlier indications, it was decided that NTS and other data were too unreliable to adjust the current bus passenger journey data to include an allowance for those aged under 5. Thus, the data were left unadjusted.

A new quarterly series of bus and light rail passenger journeys in Great Britain has been developed and will be published in index number form for the first time on 22 December 2005. Data for Scotland and Wales will be shown as a combined index, since the data are not sufficiently robust for the estimates of each country to be shown separately.

3.4 Rail statistics

There have recently been significant changes to the organisations responsible for rail statistics in central government. The Strategic Rail Authority were responsible for general rail statistics enquiries until June 2005, but now that the SRA has been disbanded this responsibility has passed to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR). ORR is setting up an "Information Network" to provide the first point of entry for all rail data enquiries. This will include a data catalogue, a web-based tool to provide users with information on many rail datasets. The Information Network should also lead on areas of rail data development.

During this transition, the Department for Transport took responsibility for the National Rail Travel Survey. This survey aims to extend the rail portion of the London Area Travel Survey to cover all GB, surveying every rail station for a typical working day. The survey is being carried out in Scotland in collaboration with the Scottish Executive. The end product should be a database of rail travel, including actual origins and destinations, purpose of travel, mode of access to the stations and demographic information. Surveying should be completed in 2005, with the database available mid 2006.

3.5 National Travel Survey

In response to one of the recommendations of the National Statistics Quality Assurance Review, an external contractor was commissioned to explore different options for weighting NTS data. In collaboration with DfT and a Steering Group of experts, a weighting strategy was developed using data for 2002. The weighting methodology is due to be published in September 2005 together with a paper comparing 2002 weighted and unweighted data. The methodology developed will be applied to data for other years, with a view to publishing weighted trend data in 2006.

No major changes to the questionnaire are planned for 2006. We are intending to add one new question on reasons for not driving, in order to improve our understanding of the decline in driving licences among young people. We are also hoping to reduce the burden on respondents by reducing the period of time over which they are asked to record information on long distance journeys.

3.6 Road freight

A new DfT survey of company-owned vans started in April 2003. First results (for 2003) were published in August 2004, and a second report, on 2004 data, in June 2005. It is planned that the survey will be carried out in its current form until the end of 2005. Taking account of the need to minimise the burden on respondents it is proposed that further information will then no longer be collected continuously but will be obtained by means of ad hoc surveys at regular intervals . It is currently anticipated that the next survey (covering both private and company-owned vans) would be needed in 2008.

DfT is exploring the potential of Intelligent Transport Systems (especially vehicle tracking systems) to supplement and eventually replace the information currently collected about HGVs and vans by means of paper-based surveys. A research study was carried out for DfT by TRL in 2004 to explore the availability and coverage of data relating to goods vehicles. It provided much valuable information about the systems currently being used, and about their potential for collecting statistics. However, the take up of such systems is quite low (about 10-15% of total HGV stock) and therefore, although DfT will be continuing to carry out further investigations in this area, it is unlikely that significant changes in the way its surveys are carried out will be made in the near future.

DfT publishes a quarterly statistics bulletin containing information about the numbers of goods vehicles travelling to mainland Europe (the RoRo survey).

DfT's 'Focus' series are occasional publications produced to take an in-depth look at particular areas of transport. The last edition of the Focus on Freight was published in June 2003. It included data up to 2001. A new edition will be published in June 2006. As far as possible it will include data up to 2005.

3.7 Maritime statistics

Better information on seafarers and trainees is needed for policy, to measure the effect of the tonnage tax on the employment of UK seafarers and to monitor the supply of UK seafarers to ensure a viable UK maritime related industry in the future, both at sea and on-shore. A review of information requirements has been carried out and improvements have been made to data collection and analysis arrangements. The first results from augmented data sets were published in May 2005 in a report produced by London Metropolitan University, "UK Seafarers Analysis 2004", which is available on the DfT web site.

The Transport Select Committee on Ports has raised concerns about the lack of up to date, reliable information about ports, particularly port manpower and port accident rates. A new survey has been carried out to estimate port related employment, to estimate port accident rates based on the employment estimates, and to devise a methodology for producing annual estimates in future. The results of the study are to be published in November 2005.

The first edition of "Focus on Ports", a descriptive look at the ports industry which included information about port ownership, cargo carried by broad commodity groups, and key facts about individual port traffic, was published in 2000. This is currently being updated and the new edition will be published in January 2006, to inform discussion about ports policy (a Ports Policy Review consultation paper is to be published in early 2006).

3.8 Environment statistics

Section 3 of Transport Statistics Great Britain on Energy and Environment has been improved this year. Changes include:

  • Breakdown of petroleum consumption statistics by type of road vehicle
  • Time series on fuel consumption of passenger cars, HGVs also included
  • Carbon dioxide and air pollutant emissions statistics now show estimates of emissions by road vehicle type and include international aviation and shipping.
  • Carbon dioxide emissions are now also shown on the ONS Environmental Accounts basis, directly comparable to measures of the UK economy such as GDP.

Work with statistical colleagues in Defra, DTI, ONS and Netcen (who produce the emissions statistics) has lead to methodological improvements in the data published by Defra/Netcen and ONS, and the establishment by DTI of regional and local road transport energy consumption estimates. Estimates of regional and local carbon dioxide emissions from road transport are in development.

3.9 Public attitudes surveys

The Department has continued to make use of the ONS Omnibus survey to inform the development of specific policies and to explore gaps in our knowledge and understanding of travel patterns. Recent topics investigated using the ONS Omnibus have included motorway congestion, climate change, car use and road pricing. Trends in attitudes to transport issues continue to be monitored using the British Attitudes Survey. An internal review of the use of attitude statistics by the Department is currently being completed. This has investigated the needs for information on public attitudes across the Department as well as exploring whether the current systems for collecting and disseminating attitudinal evidence are sufficient to address these needs.

3.10 Statistics for English regions and Local Authorities

DfT's publishes Regional Transport Statistics, containing regional and sub-regional data for many key series. English transport authorities continue to report on key indicators in their local transport plans. A revised set of mandatory indicators are being introduced for the 2nd round of Local Transport Plans, commencing in 2006/07.

3.11 Neighbourhood Statistics

Data on road casualties and licence holders are available through NeSS. DfT's contractors have nearly completed work on producing 2004 accessibility indicators. DfT is currently discussing with ONS the extent to which this information will be made available through NeSS.

3.12 Transport Trends

Transport Trends was updated in December 2004, and included statistics on the Department's PSA targets and government's sustainable development indicators most relevant to transport. DfT will be updating it electronically in December 2005, and reflecting the revised Sustainable Development Indicators published earlier this year.

3.13 Electronic dissemination

NS publications continue to be available free of charge on the Internet. DfT has improved the style and ease-of-use of Internet publication and this process, and the website content, continues to evolve. Within the DfT website the Transport Statistics pages are constantly being improved upon, with enhanced search facilities and more historic data. A dedicated GIS service has now been set up and has dramatically improved DfT's capacity for geographical presentation of data.