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Minutes 20th October 2005

Minutes of the Transport and Travel Statistics Advisory Committee (TTSAC)

Thursday 20th October 2005, Sighthill Court, Napier University

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1. Apologies, minutes of the previous meeting and matters arising

Present:

  • Chairman: Mr Frank Dixon Transport Statistician, Scottish Executive (SE)
  • Secretary: Ms Mairi MacAskill Transport Statistics Branch, SE
  • Ms Alison Bell Transport Policy, SE
  • Mrs Sandra Campbell Tourism Statistician, SE
  • Mr Hamish Clark Social Research, SE
  • Dr David Connolly MVA
  • Mr Derek Halden Derek Halden Consultancy
  • Mr Tom Hart Scottish Transport Studies Group
  • Mr Kevin Hamilton TRL Limited
  • Mr Ron Hunter SPT, representing COSLA Planning, Economics & Transport R & I Group
  • Ms Tamera Jones SUSTRANS
  • Mr Diarmid Lindsay Network Planning Branch, SE
  • Mr Ben McClory Transport Statistics Branch, SE
  • Dr Robert Raeside Transport Research Institute, Napier University
  • Ms Antonia Roberts Transport Statistics, Department for Transport
  • Mr Jock Robertson Robertson Consulting Ltd, representing TSUG
  • Ms Marjory Rodger Confederation of Passenger Transport
  • Mr Alastair Short West Lothian Council, representing COSLA and SCOTS
  • Mr Neil Sturrock Strathclyde Passenger Transport

Apologies for absence

  • Mr Roy Brannen Traffic Controller, SE
  • Dr Andy Cope SUSTRANS (represented by Tamera Jones)
  • Mr Stewart Dick Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport
  • Dr Iain Docherty Urban Studies Department, Glasgow University
  • Inspector Murray Dykes Lothian and Borders Police (representing ACPOS)
  • Dr David Gray Centre for Transport Policy, Robert Gordon University
  • Mr Duncan Gray Senior Statistician, SE
  • Mr David Greeno Office of Rail Regulation
  • Mr Tony Jarvis Highlands and Islands Strategic Transport Partnership (HITRANS)
  • Mr Clive Marchant Logistics Research Centre, Heriot-Watt University
  • Mr Rodney Mortimer WESTRANS

1.1 Mr Dixon began by expressing his thanks to Napier University's Transport Research Institute for providing the room free of charge, and to Napier's staff for setting it up.

1.2 Mr Dixon welcomed new members and requested that any changes to, or errors in, the membership list be made known to the Secretary. One change of membership from the list supplied on the 29th September was noted: Neil Sturrock replaces Alan Shirley as the Strathclyde Passenger Transport representative.

1.3 The minutes of the previous meeting had been distributed in January 2005 and were accepted as an accurate reflection of the meeting.

1.4 A list of the action points from the previous meeting had been sent out with the papers 3 weeks before the meeting setting out what was (or was not) done in each case. Mr Dixon asked if there were any points that anyone wished to make on these matters, or any other matters arising from the minutes. There was some discussion about the progress of Action Point 3.3 National Statistics harmonisation. Ms Roberts stressed that working groups had been set up but there has not been much progress in this area. Mrs Campbell pointed out that there was also SE representation on ONS' Social Harmonisation Working Group (SHWG), and that information relating to harmonisation could be found on the ONS website.

Action: Mrs Campbell to forward the relevant link to the Secretary so that this could be circulated among members

2. Informing and Monitoring the National Transport Strategy - paper TTSAC (05)

2.1 Mr Dixon indicated that this paper was designed to inform members about the SE National Transport Strategy and follows on from the committee's discussion of the progress indicators the previous year. Comments and suggestions about indicators that could be used to inform and monitor the strategy were invited.

2.2 Ms Bell informed the committee that the National Transport Strategy was being developed between now and Summer 2006. A number of pre-consultation events have been organised looking at a range of issues: themed events; regional events and modal events. It was stressed that the strategy is still at a very early stage of development, and that these pre-consultation events were designed to feed into this. By the end of 2005 a draft will be published, and there will then be a formal consultation period of 12 weeks. The comments received during this time will be considered for the publication of the final strategy in the Summer. The strategy will cover the 5 key transport objectives set out in the Transport white paper. These objectives will be the starting point for any monitoring of the strategy.

2.3 Dr David Connolly asked how the Regional Transport Strategies will feed into the National Transport Strategy. Ms Bell responded that the national strategy will come first but that there will be a close working relationship between the two. Regional strategies should be published by around April '07, but should hold few surprises due to this close relationship. Mr Ron Hunter enquired about a timetable for Regional Transport Strategy guidance, and Ms Bell replied that this would go out in a couple of weeks.

2.4 Mr Tom Hart raised the point that there seems to be a lot of spending in terms of revenue support, and asked whether it will be difficult to get decisions on future commitments. Ms Bell replied that the National Transport Strategy will not set budgets, but will establish priorities over the long-term.

2.5 Mr Alastair Short asked whether this strategy will be a 'target setting' strategy. Ms Bell replied that this is an open question: she would welcome the committee's views on this point later in the discussion. She thought that the chapter on monitoring issues in the strategy might have a discussion on the value of targets.

2.6 Dr Connolly pointed out that there was no regional event for Shetland. Ms Bell responded by saying that she could find out if there was demand for such an event.

2.7 Mr Dixon now called the committee's notice to the questions at the end of the paper. First, which are the key statistics to be used for each of these 5 areas?

2.8 Economic growth

2.8.1 Committee members' ideas for indicators:

  • Time lost due to congestion (delay)
  • Variability of travel time
  • Job/ employee catchment areas - smaller the better - and labour market constraints (as identified in employer surveys)
  • International access to markets
  • Travel times to different countries
  • Commuting distances (though this would be very variable from area to area)

2.8.2 Committee members' comments:

  • Mr Derek Halden had done some work for the Countryside Commission to do with "Transport and the Economy" and the accessibility of areas, which he felt might be of interest. Perceived accessibility can differ from actual accessibility; both were important.
  • Links between GDP and growth in transport not straightforward. Not clear whether transport promotes economic growth or is a response to it. The needs and the impact can vary between sectors of the economy - e.g. biotechnology, fish-farming, tourism.
  • Tonne kms moved/ GDP is used by DfT as a sustainability measure - i.e. the lower the ratio the less movement of goods for a given level of economic activity.
  • Mr Hamish Clark indicated that employer surveys have been run but not covering all sectors of business - mostly just small businesses. One included questions on travel plans and may be a starting point for examining the views of small businesses, although their operations may cover only their local areas. Ms Roberts felt that it would be difficult to disentangle the effects of "transport" and "technological infrastructure" on business decisions on location.
  • Ms Marjory Rodger suggested that the Traveline Scotland batch journey planner could be used to find all journey times to/from the surrounding areas. Census 'travel to work' data and the National Travel Survey provide information about commuting distances/ accessibility of employment. Data on catchment areas would be of local/Regional use - not for national figures.
  • Mr Robertson stressed that the important indicators such as reliability of journeys, congestion and access to international markets will affect the economy differently in different localities. Mr Halden pointed out that if the economy is doing badly in an area people are more likely to travel great distances to work, and that access to work is important.
  • Tourism contributes around Scotland. Some feel that Transport is the main constraint on the growth of Tourism.
  • We need to think about the specific needs of rural Scotland.
  • At aggregated national level, journey time reliability, congestion and international connectivity may be the easiest to measure and the best indicators of effects of Transport on business.

2.9 Social Inclusion

2.9.1 Committee members' ideas for indicators:

  • Difference in accessibility between car-owning and non car-owning households
  • Changing patterns of use of concessionary fares schemes - to be measured before any more such schemes are introduced
  • Travel costs
  • Amount of travel by "socially excluded" groups - to illustrate, and show any change in, the gap between relatively mobile groups and the relatively immobile "excluded" groups.

2.9.2 Committee members' comments:

  • Break down groups by income level, not car ownership - uncouple these
  • Some people have high transport costs because they can't afford high property prices
  • Need to base indicators if possible around Closing the Opportunity Gap objectives and targets
  • Need to measure "accessibility", not drive time, and Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation currently looks at latter
  • National fare indices don't reflect regional differences in fares
  • Amount of travel by "excluded" groups could be confounded with sustainability - possibly desire for travel could be measured
  • There was some discussion about the conflict between social inclusion and environmental aims. Some felt that such conflict was inevitable and discussions such as this could help to manage this conflict, although in the end it is politicians who decide how to balance these issues.

2.10 Environment and health

2.10.1 Committee members' ideas for indicators:

  • Activity levels - to measure walking and cycling
  • Mode share other than car (and plane)
  • Use the latest Sustainable Development indicators (being revised at present) - though we may not want (or be able) to map UK indicators onto ours 100%
  • Distance driven, fuel sales, efficiency of vehicle fleet
  • Emissions - CO2, PM10, NO2

2.10.2 Committee members' comments:

  • Accessibility by walking and cycling is difficult to measure nationally but frequency of walking/cycling is simple
  • Need to integrate with SE Physical Activity Strategy and 2021 target for reducing road traffic volumes
  • Perhaps the one single thing to look at here is CO2/greenhouse gas emissions
  • Can't forget about aviation and the consequences of policies (e.g.) encouraging cheap flights - though currently there is no agreed way of dividing in-air emissions between start and end point.
  • Ms Bell asked if we should focus on what is within SE's power to influence - people felt SE should look both at impact of devolved policies on (e.g.) CO2 emissions, plus overall total trends. Where relevant, SE can then make its views known to UK/EU governments
  • Figures published on 21st October 2005 of emissions by region, although there are problems in the reporting estimation system so there was some doubt about the reliability of these figures.

2.11 Safety

2.11.1 Committee members' ideas for indicators:

  • Accident numbers
  • Perception of safety on public transport
  • Actual personal safety
  • Perceived risks of different modes

2.11.2 Committee members' comments:

  • Ms Bell suggested a single rolled-up look, by mode, at overall risk including accident safety, personal safety and risk of anti-social behaviour - though general consensus is that this would be difficult to do. Dr Connolly pointed out that it is very difficult to combine measures of different negative experiences.
  • Personal safety can be a difficult topic to address. The Scottish Household Survey has some information on this. Ms Rodger indicated that SE has done research on buses, and safety was found to be a problem in particular areas and so links into social inclusion. The whole travel experience was important, particularly for those with special needs. Crime had been reduced where investment had been made in (e.g.) well-lit bus shelters. Mr Dixon then suggested that perhaps local studies would be more useful than using SHS. Referring to T & TSAC Paper 1(05), Mr Dixon explained that the Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey would provide estimates of crime/victimisation on public transport but the national crime statistics don't collect such information, although some police forces (such as Lothian & Borders) do. Links to social inclusion were also important, with an ageing population.
  • Need to look at cost of investments in safety versus their effectiveness - likely to be smaller local interventions but NTS could take a view on the overall balance of expenditure
  • There was some discussion of whether safety should be a local issue (e.g. particular cycle routes) rather than a national one. The impact of spending in some areas can be quite low, so priorities in terms of safety need to be established.
  • Ms Rodger suggested that perhaps satisfaction of users could be a measure. The Scottish Consumer Council found that the actual risk was less than the perceived risk, and that non-users perceived a greater risk than users.

2.12 Integration

2.12.1 Committee members' ideas for indicators:

  • Number of multi-modal ticket sales (perhaps as a percentage of all public transport ticket sales) - although there was a discussion about the general undesirability of having to change mode. The point was made, though, that many people would not have access if there was not integration between modes
  • Use of Traveline and Transport Direct
  • Proportion of new homes within x minutes of a bus stop with y buses per hour
  • Supply and cost of parking

2.12.2 Committee members' comments:

  • Ms Rodger pointed out that some integration schemes had been held up pending ticket machinery installation for concessionary travel schemes. Integrated ticketing would be feasible when every bus had compliant machines. 85% of journeys are 1 mode only.
  • It was suggested that integration had three elements (ease of changing to another mode, integration with other policies, and between Transport and Land Use) and that the biggest problem in recent years had been developments not well-served by public transport.
  • Dr Connolly suggested that the SHS data could be used to identify the modal share for journeys to/from new developments (e.g. retail, hospital, housing estates) by identifying new postcodes, for comparison with the Scottish average.

2.13 Mr Dixon thanked the committee for their suggestions. The next question was whether the strategy should have indicators or targets. Members' views included:

  • Indicators are useful and less of a "political football" than targets, while still allowing informed analysis
  • Targets are very important as they keep Ministers on the hook
  • Targets must be evidence-based or it devalues the target-setting process. E.g. of good target - road safety. E.g. of bad targets - 2021 road traffic stabilisation, cycling target. No evidence to illustrate why these targets were felt to be achievable.
  • Targets also need to have an element of flexibility to deal with changing circumstances
  • Targets need to be complementary to one another - can't have incompatibility (e.g. one target to increase cycling, and another target to reduce cycling-related accidents?)
  • Targets also should not lead to perverse incentives to act in an undesirable way
  • Targets can risk unbalancing the transport agenda by focusing attention on a limited number of areas

2.14 Mr Dixon now moved on to the content of the monitoring and review of the National Transport Strategy. Should it have a broad Scotland overview or should it also be broken down by regions? Members' views included:

  • If something is worth monitoring nationally, it ought to be monitored regionally too.
  • It was uncertain how Regional Transport Partnerships will respond to national targets. Ms Bell did not expect that national targets would apply to RTPs, but their strategies must complement national strategies.
  • It was suggested that congestion monitoring should cover trunk and local authority roads, lest trunk road policies displace congestion onto local roads.

2.15 Mr Dixon invited comments about issues that the SE should consider relating to the evidence base for the National Transport Strategy. Members' views included:

  • Need to differentiate between views expressed, which may not be backed up by evidence, and evidence-based analysis that is put forward to SE. Though clearly first-hand user testimony has value.
  • Need for more evidence from SHS travel diary on shorter journeys
  • Lots of evidence and theory from UK in 1990s e.g. SACTRA on Transport and economic growth, Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and Sustainable Development, Social Exclusion Unit on social inclusion/ accessibility planning - "you don't need any other evidence than that".
  • Financial evidence - about spending levels, on what, and with what effectiveness - is hard to interpret

2.16 Mr Dixon asked the committee whether they felt further face to face consultation was required after the draft NTS is published. Views expressed included:

  • Maybe - see how we get on with written consultation. If responses were copied (or otherwise made available) to others, one could see if a consensus was emerging. On the other hand, it was important to take the time to get it right.
  • After the consultation it would be good to see the emerging indicators in the draft of the final version, to ensure no "silly ideas" have been incorporated in the final version when it's been published - Ms Bell said she would think about how this could be managed. This might mean sending round SE's emerging thinking in confidence in perhaps April/ May.

Action: Ms Bell to consider committee's input into the National Transport Strategy.

Action: Mr Dixon to send a link to the documentation of the treatment of "bunkers" for greenhouse gas emissions for international aviation and shipping.

3. Developing Scottish Executive Transport Statistics Publications and other outputs - TTSAC (05) 3

3.1 Mr Dixon explained that this paper was designed to seek the views of committee members on possible developments to SE Transport Statistics publications and other outputs. The first topic for discussion was the frequency of publication of the "SHS Travel Diary results" bulletin and the "Bus and Coach Statistics" bulletin. Mr Dixon proposed that these annual publications become biennial, as they were the most "specialised" ones, to allow more time to be spent on other publications or analyses.

3.2 There was general concern that the data should continue to be available. Mr Dixon explained that the SHS Travel Diary data would still be accessible from the Data Archive as it is now, on an annual basis. It was asked whether it would be possible for some tables to be put on to the website. Mr Dixon responded by saying that 2 or 3 main tables of Travel Diary results could be put on the website, but there would not be the same detail as in the annual publications. The committee were content that the publications were to become biennial as long as users were made aware that the data is still available annually.

Action: Mr Dixon to change frequency of "SHS Travel Diary results" and "Bus and Coach Statistics" to biennial

3.3 Mr Dixon then moved the discussion onto the timing of publications, in particular "Scottish Transport Statistics". This publication has traditionally appeared in August. DfT advanced its survey of bus and coach operators to the beginning of September, which means that these figures could have been included in STS, if it had an October (or later) publication date. When would the committee like to see STS published?

3.4 Ms Bell enquired why STS was published in August to begin with. Mr Dixon explained that this is the earliest that calendar year data could be published. As a result, financial year data such as DfT's cannot be included.

3.5 Ms Roberts stressed that DfT were sticking with their October date for "Transport Statistics Great Britain", although they are now looking to dynamically update their web tables. Mr Dixon said that STS tables were already updated on the web, but that a lot of people like the paper copy. Mr Hart expressed his support for the October date but asked if there was a possibility of quarterly updates electronically. Mr Dixon suggested asking the supplier of the relevant data to provide this kind of information when such figures are available.

3.6 Mr Dixon asked the committee if they were content for STS to be published later, such as at the end of October. That would still be too early for the waterborne freight figures but Ms Roberts said there was a possibility of DfT giving SE the data before publication. Mr Hunter pointed out that if data suppliers had more time they could do a better job. The committee was content with a later publication date.

Action: Mr Dixon to move the publication of "Scottish Transport Statistics" to a later date, such as the end of October.

3.7 Mr Dixon then asked the committee if, in light of the above decision, other publications produced by SE Transport Statistics should be brought forward, such as the Household Transport bulletin. Dr Connolly felt that the publication date of the bulletin was irrelevant as long as the data were available electronically. The general feeling of the committee was not to move other publication dates but to make sure updated versions of the main Scottish Transport Statistics "calendar year" tables are made available in August on the Website. Mr Robertson referred to the importance of continuing to produce hard copies as well as Web versions of publications.

3.8 Mr Dixon invited comments about possible improvements to STS. The inclusion of Scottish Household Survey time-series tables was considered to be good but only if the tables show trends rather than random variation. Mr Hart did not want Table 8.11 (Passengers in excess of capacity - Edinburgh commuter services across the Forth) to be dropped, and Mr Dixon suggested that perhaps figures from any new Scotland-wide monitoring arrangements could replace this table.

3.9 Mr Halden enquired whether NADICS data was only for trunk roads, and would such a table look at less important routes? Mr Dixon responded by saying that the main trunk route data should be available 'off the shelf', whereas to produce similar statistics covering all other roads would incur huge expense. Mr Halden indicated that including only trunk road data could mean that it was not balanced across Scotland. Trafficmaster was suggested as an alternative/supplement source of data, but Mr Dixon stressed that, even if this data was free to the SE, the costs of processing and/or analysis could be significant.

3.10 Dr Connolly asked that figures be provided for Regional Transport Partnership areas as well as for local authorities, wherever possible. Mr Dixon agreed to do this for (e.g.) some SHS results. Mr Hunter asked about the availability of DfT bus operator survey data on bus patronage and punctuality for Scottish regions. Mr Dixon said that he would make enquiries.

3.11 Mr Dixon asked the committee if they would like to see any new publications from the SE Transport Statistics Branch. Dr Connolly replied that he would find an Environmental Issues publication pulling together all environmentally relevant transport statistics useful. Mr Dixon replied that there is a "Key Environmental Statistics" publication, provided by the Environmental Statistics Branch, which includes traffic information but perhaps not air passenger numbers. Dr Connolly said that he would like to see emissions feed into this, so that transport could be connected to air quality. Mr Dixon responded by saying this is covered to some extent in STS but there may be more of this in the future.

3.12 The general feeling about the style of publications in future was to keep them as they are: black and white was sufficient.

Action: Mr Dixon to consider suggestions

4. TTSAC-Related ScotStat News (no paper)

4.1 Dr Connolly summarised the outcomes of the previous ScotStat Board. The "access" domain of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation was being reviewed as at the moment it is all car-based. There is hope that this could be changed to include public transport access to services. Support was shown for this as it was felt that deprivation may be "hidden" by a driver-based SIMD. The latest SHS review and topic reports were also mentioned briefly.

4.2 The Committee thanked Dr Connolly for representing it on the ScotStat Board.

5. The Transport part of the Scottish Executive Statistics Plan - TTSAC (05) 4

5.1 Mr Dixon introduced the paper and invited comment on any points of the Transport part of the SE Statistics plan. There were no comments.

5.2 Mr Dixon then asked members whether they felt the SE Transport Statistics branch had any information gaps or needs to be addressed. Mr Hart commented that he would like to see more on aviation and accessibility data, and transport and energy. Mr Dixon responded that "STS" would have more tables on aviation in the future, and a summary of Greenhouse Gas Inventory figures. Also, Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics might provide some accessibility figures.

5.3 Mr Robertson asked for previous years' tables to be left on the website after the latest year's had been put up. He added that some DfT tables for previous years had disappeared off their website. Ms Roberts offered to investigate this. Mr Dixon said that it was SE practice to leave previous years' tables on the website, but they were "frozen" as published.

Action: Ms Roberts to investigate 'missing' tables

5.4 Mr Hamilton felt that accessibility to data should be improved so that users can create their own cross-tabulations and analysis. Mr Dixon replied that this was not just a transport issue. Colleagues within SE were looking at the possibility of making suitable software available, and Transport Statistics now have to await developments on this.

5.5 Dr Connolly emphasised the need for statistics for Regional Transport Partnership areas.

6. Recent Developments in DfT Transport Statistics - TTSAC (05) 5

6.1 Ms Roberts introduced her paper and invited any questions about the recent developments in DfT Transport Statistics.

6.2 Dr Connolly enquired about the National Rail Survey, as it is not mentioned, and asked if there was a growing amount of station-to-station data. Ms Roberts said that this had been left out, but a paragraph on progress with National Rail Survey is being drafted. Dr Connolly asked whether it contained detailed information about Scottish stations and Ms Roberts replied that it did.

7. Developments in Tourism Statistics in Scotland - progress report TTSAC (05) 8

7.1 Mrs Campbell introduced her paper and drew particular attention to section 8, concerning a research project on the travel behaviour of visitors to Scotland. She added that she and policy colleagues were very interested in tourism travel patterns in Scotland and that it would be useful if any members could send her links to research that would help.

7.2 Dr Connolly asked who had been given the contract for the research, and Ms Bell replied that it had been short-listed but no contract awarded yet. Dr Connolly explained that MVA was carrying out research for Scottish Natural Heritage into accessibility - e.g. understanding of access rights, attitudes towards landowners, recreational use of land etc. He wondered if it was possible for Mrs Campbell to incorporate a relevant question(s) into this survey. Mrs Campbell said she felt it was an early enough stage for this to be considered, and felt that this information would be valuable for VisitScotland also.

Action: Dr Connolly to email Mrs Campbell with outline

7.3 Mr Hart enquired whether tourists were asked not only their intentions as they came into the country but also what they had actually done when leaving. Mrs Campbell responded that at the moment it is the former but that there will be opportunities to discuss these issues with the contractor. Ms Rodger pointed out that Traveline Scotland gets many hits from foreign visitors so perhaps information could be obtained from this source.

8. Any Other Business

8.1 Committee members will contact the authors of the "for information" papers if they require further information on any points

8.2 It was agreed that the next meeting should be in about a year (Autumn 2006) and on the same day as the next TRi/TSUG seminar. Subgroups to meet as required.