Administrative statistics about Transport in Scotland are produced by a wide range of organisations, including the Scottish Government, the Department for Transport (DfT), the Civil Aviation Authority, the Office of Rail Regulation, and many other bodies.
Views of transport users and details of personal travel are collected through survey data, for example the transport questions and travel diary in the Scottish Government's Scottish Household Survey (SHS) and the National Travel Survey (NTS) run by the DfT.
Users of data
They are used by a wide range of interested parties, such as:
- the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government (including Transport Scotland)
- local authorities
- Regional Transport Partnerships
- police forces
- other public sector bodies (e.g. Scottish Enterprise and HIE, Cycling Scotland)
- transport companies and their representative organisations
- students, academics and other researchers
- transport consultancies
- other bodies with an interest in transport matters, such as the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, the Scottish Transport Studies Group, SUSTRANS, the Institute of Road Safety Officers, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and other bodies concerned with road safety
- politicians and members of the public.
Uses of published statistics
Transport statistics are used for a wide range of purposes including:
- Informing the general public's choices, e.g. lifestyle choices around road safety
- Government decision making through policy making and policy monitoring
- Resource allocation
- Informing public marketing campaigns e.g. road safety
- Supporting third sector activity e.g. lobbying and funding applications
- Facilitating academic research.
Transport Analytical Services produce two publications in hard copy and on the website:
1. Scottish Transport Statistics (STS) is used by many as a publication providing comprehensive figures and trends across the breadth of transport topics and using data from a wide range of data sources. For some users this publication provides the main source of transport data and everything they require. For others with an interest in specific areas of transport it provides contextual information for their work e.g. historical trends, road lengths, vehicle registrations or data on other types of transport for comparison purposes. For example Police Forces use car registrations and road length to put their own data into context.
2. Reported Road Casualties Scotland (RRCS) is the key source of data for those working in road safety. Data is used to inform road safety campaigns e.g. on speeding or drink driving. There are also regular casualty reduction targets which have been set by the Scottish and UK governments that require to be monitored. It is also used by police forces to check for problems in their areas and respond accordingly e.g. to focus on young drivers. HM Inspectorate of Constabulary use the data to identify questions for the forces. Costs data that is published is used to estimate the savings from preventing accidents due to policy intervention or road design e.g. by the police or by transport planners. The figures and data are also used by Transport Scotland's Accident Investigation and Prevention Unit.
Other publications are produced in a web only format, including a .pdf file to enable users to print a document where required.
Main Transport Trends and Key Reported Road Casualties provide advance headline figures from the main publications earlier in the year.
Bus & Coach statistics is the only regular publication that is produced which focuses on a single type of transport. This compendium publication pulls together tables from the STS and SHS publications along with DfT data to provide all bus and coach data together in one place. The publication is used in Transport Scotland to inform policy, funding (including concessionary fares and the Bus Service Operators Grant) and local initiatives and is also used by operators, their representative organisations and Regional Transport Partnerships to promote and improve bus travel across Scotland e.g. looking at fare indices and passenger numbers / distance travelled.
There are three publications based on survey data looking at personal travel and providing more detail behind the figures published in STS. These are the SHS travel diary publication , Household Trends which publishes the results of the travel questions in the SHS, and National Travel Survey - Scotland Results which publishes the Scottish results from the NTS. The survey data provides insight into travel behaviour which can then be used to assess the impact of interventions (policy or schemes) on particular demographic groups. This information is used by Transport Scotland, transport consultants and those working in particular sectors to look at actual and potential modal shift, for example moves to active travel. A review of the SHS was carried out in Summer 2010 and a summary of responses is published here
Accessing Transport Statistics
The range of users of transport statistics is broad and user needs vary. Consultation with users and discussion at user group meetings has identified a number of issues relating to the use of statistics, some of which are listed below:
Accessibility (Publication / Data source vs Topic): Some users access transport statistics from particular publications, others have a focus on a particular topic e.g. road casualties. The structure of publications and the website attempts to cater for both routes into the figures. It is planned to review the website layout in 2011 to improve usability and users will be consulted as part of this process. Changes have also been made to publications in recent years to improve accessibility and reduce duplication. Positive feedback has been received from users on the progress made and further changes will be made in consultation with users.
Web vs Hard Copy publications: Many users are happy with a web publication, others prefer a hard copy. For the two larger publications, STS and RRCS, a hard copy is produced. For all publications a .pdf is provided on the website to enable users to print a copy if required. The size of this file is kept as small as possible to enable users with slower internet connections to access the file.
Currency of data: Some users have identified issues around time lags between period end and availability of data. Whether using administrative or survey data, there is a necessary time lag between the period end, the receipt of data and the completion of quality checking. We seek to minimise this time whilst maintaining a balance with data quality in order to meet user needs. The publication timetable is consulted on regularly and changes have been made in recent years to improve data availability e.g. through the publication of headline figures earlier in the year with the detail following later and in 2011 it is intended to bring the publication of Reported Road Casualties forward from November to October at the request of users. The move to web publications will also enable more frequent and / or faster updates to data series.
Commentary vs data: Some users require commentary and explanation of trends, patterns etc. Other users are familiar with the data and are less interested in the commentary. Publications attempt to strike a balance and the move to web publications should require fewer resources and enable more analysis of the data to be carried out. For example RRCS 2009 includes an article comparing the statistics published with numbers from other similar data sources.
Other issues are identified in minutes of user group meetings (see below).
Engaging with Users
Transport statistics have 2 main user groups, (Transport & Travel Statistics Advisory Committee (TTSAC) and Liaison Group on Road Accident Statistics (LGRAS), which meet on an annual basis. The memberships were originally derived from the ScotStat register but have evolved over time. The remit, membership, papers and minutes from previous meetings can be found on our website ( www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Transport-Travel/scotstat/committees)
The minutes reflect discussions on the publication format, content and timing of publications.
In addition to the annual meetings, users are regularly contacted by email to inform them of publications dates and consult on statistical plans and any relevant issues.
Further details about user engagement can be found elsewhere in this section of the website.