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Minutes 29th November 2004

Minutes - Monday 29th November 2004, 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 Paula McClements Transport Statistics Branch, SE
  • Ms Alison Bell Transport Policy SE
  • Mr Scott Brand Transport Statistics Branch, SE
  • Dr David Connolly MVA
  • Mrs Sandra Campbell Tourism Statistician SE
  • Dr Andy Cope SUSTRANS
  • Mr Paul Davison Derek Halden Consultancy
  • Mr Stewart Dick Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport
  • Inspector Murray Dykes Lothian and Borders Police (ACPOS)
  • Mr Stephen Hinchliffe Transport Statistics Branch SE
  • Mr Ron Hunter SPT, representing COSLA Planning, Economics & Transport R & I Group
  • Mr Diarmid Lindsay Network Planning Branch, SE
  • Dr David McGuigan Colin Buchanan and Partners
  • Mr Rodney Mortimer WESTRANS
  • Dr Robert Raeside Transport Research Institute, Napier University
  • Mr Glyn Rhys-Tyler TRL Limited
  • Ms Antonia Roberts Transport Statistics, Department for Transport
  • Mr Jock Robertson Robertson Consulting Ltd, representing TSUG
  • Mr Alastair Short West Lothian Council, representing COSLA and SCOTS

Apologies for absence

  • Mr Hamish Clark Social Research SE
  • Mr Iain Docherty Urban Studies Department, Glasgow University
  • Mr Duncan Gray Senior Statistician SE
  • Mr Derek Halden Derek Halden Consultancy (represented by Paul Davison)
  • Mr Tom Hart Scottish Transport Studies Group
  • Mr Tony Jarvis Highlands and Islands Strategic Transport Partnership (HITRANS)
  • Mr Clive Marchant Logistics Research Centre, Heriot-Watt University
  • Ms Marjory Rodger Confederation of Passenger Transport
  • Mr Alan Shirley Strathclyde Passenger Transport

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 8th November was noted: Sandra Campbell replaces Gerhard Mors as the Scottish Executive Tourism Statistician.

1.3 Minutes of the previous meeting had been distributed in October 2003 and were accepted as an accurate reflection of the meeting.

1.4 A list of 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 were none.

2. SE Transport Progress Indicators - paper TTSAC (04) 1

2.1 Mr Dixon indicated that the first couple of pages of this paper set out the background, describing briefly the Transport Progress Indicators which were published in December 2002 and the consultations for the second edition. The Committee discussed the indicators last year and further advice was gratefully received from the sub-group on indicators. Mr Dixon explained that Paragraphs 9 and 10 described the changes envisaged at the time that this paper was prepared. Since then, the Minister had asked for some changes to the text, and a revised draft had been put to him. The workbook sent to members on 22nd November shows all the charts that are now proposed. All being well, the second edition will be published next month. This meeting is the first stage in the consultation on the third edition of the indicators, which might appear towards the end of 2005. The person leading on the review is Alison Bell of the Transport Strategy and Policy team.

2.2 Ms Bell indicated that she would welcome any views on what already exists and how the indicators could be improved and link better to the 5 key transport objectives. There were a number of changes afoot so this was a good time for reflection. Any comments would be taken on board and considered for next year.

2.3 Dr David Connolly asked whether the graphs of occupancy referred to "adult" or "total" occupancy, as it was not identified clearly. He commented on the differences between getting adults to modify their behaviour rather than people/families and how this affects modelling.

Action: Mr Dixon to add label to chart.

2.4 Mr Jock Robertson raised a general point about the difficulty of seeing trends in many of the graphs. He felt that some of the movements on the graphs were so small that the text would have to help people interpret the graphs. Mr Dixon explained that it was hoped to keep the text to a minimum to allow people to draw their own conclusions. Mr Dick suggested the addition of moving averages, where appropriate. He felt this might be particularly useful regarding the NO2/particulates graphs which are "all over the place". Mr Dixon pointed out that moving averages could not be used in some cases e.g. the Household Survey results, as they cover only a few years. Ms Roberts suggested a measure of variation could also be included.

Action: Mr Dixon to consider where moving averages may be useful/applicable.

2.5 Dr Andy Cope raised a point on presentation saying that the juxtaposition of the "International comparison" charts on "Cars-modal shares" and "Road deaths per million population" showed an unstated implication of high car use and low road casualties. Mr Dixon replied that these graphs were on the same page as they were on related topics, and it would be difficult to start stating that one particular graph is not related to another. Dr Connolly speculated that more traffic might mean more congestion and slower speeds hence fewer severe accidents. Mr Dixon said that the charts could be rearranged by having the 3 modal shares together and followed by road deaths, but that nothing should go in the text.

Action: Mr Dixon to rearrange charts

2.6 Dr Connolly suggested the 'Short journeys' graph could be simplified by giving only one period's figures rather than trying to show trends. He felt that although it contained a great deal of useful information it was too "busy" and, as a result, confusing. Ms Bell asked for extra graphs showing trends for cycling and walking as they are of particular policy interest. Dr Connolly questioned the value of "walking time to the nearest bus stop" - he thought that it could be a meaningless statistic as it doesn't include the frequency of buses at that stop, whether they are going to where people want to go, or whether people can board the bus due to infirmness or disability - indeed it could have unintended adverse consequences, if operators introduced routes which "zig zagged" (giving reduced walking times but much longer journey times). Mr Dixon referred to the discussion of "accessibility" in a later paper.

Action: Mr Dixon to consider splitting the "short journeys" graphs into car/bus and walking/cycling.

2.7 Mr Robertson suggested having some sort of matrix showing which indicators link to which transport objectives. Ms Bell confirmed that these objectives could be clarified in the national transport policy. Dr Connolly thought the objective of integration was unclear. Mr Robertson said that "integration" was on three levels, between transport modes, between transport and land use and planning, and between other policy areas and transport. It was suggested that the more detailed Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) objectives and chapter/section headings would give a better framework for the matrix. It was acknowledged that there are a range of things that do not come under the 5 headings e.g. walking to school and health issues or a health agenda. Ms Bell mentioned that the "environment" objective actually refers to "environment and health", that the definitions of the objectives are as in the White Paper, and that she would look to ensure that the transport community had the same interpretation of them.

2.8 A question was raised regarding the Labour Force Survey, which is expected to be subsumed into the Continuous Population Survey. Ms Roberts expected that its questions on travel to work would continue on the same basis as before.

2.9 Dr Connolly asked if an indicator could be added relating to land use in regard to people's personal travel e.g. length of shopping trips. Mr Dixon thought that the production of a detailed accessibility indicator would be a major exercise. A discussion ensued about the objective of transport and an appropriate indicator to measure the impact on the transport network of planning decisions. Length of journey is currently being used as a surrogate for this. Suggested possible sources of indicators included measures of the balance between Greenfield/Brownfield development; proximity of new build to the public transport network (which would require detailed data); the nature of new build (e.g. housing/shopping/employment); local authority information on planning permissions (e.g. size and nature of developments). Mr Dixon said that consultation with Planning Statistics colleagues would be necessary.

Action: Mr Dixon to consult Planning Statistics colleagues

2.10 Ms Bell outlined the timescale for the consultations. Mr Dixon concluded by thanking members for their comments. The "indicators" sub-group could meet once the SE had prepared draft proposals for the changes in the light of the responses to the consultation. He would keep the main group informed of developments.

Action: Mr Dixon to convene an "indicators" sub group meeting in late spring/early summer.

3. Developing "Scottish Transport Statistics" paper - TTSAC (04) 2

3.1 Mr Dixon introduced the paper outlining the results of the survey, and sought the views of the committee regarding future actions. He remarked on the disappointing number of responses and asked for suggestions to encourage user comments in future.

3.2 It was recognised that the problem of poor response is a common one. For some users "STS" is used occasionally, as and when the need for figures arises, so they do not develop a view on how it might be changed until they look for something and find it not there, or not in the form they need. Therefore, to ask questions about the whole of the document was not the best way. It was suggested that items to be dropped should be listed and people asked to express an interest in saving them. It was also suggested that sections of the questionnaire could be embedded within the document as published on the internet. Examining the number of 'hits' on different parts of the document on the web could also indicate which sections are most or least used. To some users, a big questionnaire is off-putting, therefore smaller and more specific questionnaires requesting comments on particular areas may yield greater response rates. It was suggested that users do not 'read' "STS" and therefore would not complete a questionnaire that leads you through it. A possible approach may be to examine a few chapters a year. Users of the document may be more likely to respond to specific proposals than to make general comments. To avoid "wish-lists", they should be asked about the importance of, and the need for, new tables.

3.3 It was suggested that under National Statistics there is a move towards harmonisation of outputs, which would require some changes to "STS". Mr Dixon agreed that standard bandings should be used where appropriate, with flexibility to choose the most appropriate banding (e.g. of age groups when showing driving licence possession). More information can be made available on the web than in paper publications and anonymised versions of the Scottish Household Survey and road accident data are available from the Data Archive.

3.4 Mr Rhys-Tyler suggested another possible way to combat the low response rate would be to hold workshops on particular areas and ask for feedback at the end of e.g. a TRI-TSUG seminar.

3.5 The group was content with the list of changes scheduled for the next edition of "STS" and other bulletins.

Action: Mr Dixon to consider suggestions

3.6 Mr Dixon invited views on the possible developments described in Section 4 of the paper.

3.6.1 Crimes on public transport. In current crime statistics, crimes which took place on a bus or at a bus stop are not identifiable. British Transport Police provide detailed information for crime on the railways. In her comments on the paper, Marjory Rodger indicated equivalent data for buses would be welcome, citing studies which showed that crime was a significant problem. It was thought unlikely that figures for crimes at or near bus stops could be produced. Inspector Dykes indicated that Lothian and Borders police do record "bus" crimes but do not identify them separately in returns to the Scottish Executive. Different Police Forces might have different arrangements for recording the location of crimes. He also questioned what would be done with the data were it made available. There was debate over what should be reported as a bus crime and whether to count crimes like minor vandalism (which may only be recorded by the bus company, without being reported to the police). There was also debate regarding whether survey information about perceptions/ fear of crime or the actual level of crime was the most appropriate statistical measure when considering influences on people's transport choices. It was agreed that fear of crime and actual crime would be dealt with by different policy initiatives, and the difference between trends in the two would be of interest.

Action: SE and DfT need to look at what information is available and consider the remit for any subgroup. A possible starting point may be any information about the scale of the problem which could be provided by Lothian and Borders police. Mr Dixon would also examine what (if any) information is collected in the SE and DfT Bus Passenger Satisfaction Surveys and in the Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey.

3.6.2 Bus passenger journeys by main operators. In her comments Marjory Rodger had pointed out that bus operators were obliged to provide certain figures to transport authorities. It was felt there was no need for this information to be publicly available.

3.6.3 Use of selected new rail stations and re-opened lines. ScotRail are unlikely to be keen to make this potentially commercially sensitive information public. Mr Dick argued that, as new stations are publicly-funded, the public has a right to know. It could yield useful information regarding the build up of patronage on new routes, and help to justify the funding associated with the development. Mr Dixon indicated a possible commercial concern with a successful rail route attracting bus operators which in turn would take away the rail customers. However, it was suggested that such data are not particularly difficult to get hold of (as anybody could count people boarding a train or a bus) so perhaps confidentiality is not an issue, or the numbers could be provided in "indexed" form, to show how they build up without revealing the level. One would have to indicate, for example, when there were changes in the number of services, as that would cause a break in the trend. It was suggested that, as new bus routes receive a 'bus route development grant', figures for their build up of patronage should be available also, and similarly for new tram lines and possibly new air routes.

Action: Mr Dixon to see what information might be available.

3.6.4 Use of waterways by recreational craft. There was no committee interest. Mr Robertson said he had previously asked British Waterways for information but could only get information on the number of craft rather than the type and level of usage. It was thought that it would be difficult to count/classify use by, for example, rowing clubs.

3.6.5 Further geographical disaggregations, for example, by councils. Mr Short said that local authorities producing Local Transport Strategies would want figures relating to whatever indicators would be required in LTSs, and to policy objectives, but this did not require tables to be published in "STS": council figures should be provided when requested. Other disaggregations (e.g. by Regional Transport Partnership areas) would be useful but might not be available from some current data sources (e.g. Mr Mortimer said that Argyll & Bute and North Ayrshire might be split between different RTP areas). Consultants commented that the required geographical breakdowns depended on the project/topic of interest, so an "ad hoc" request facility was needed.

3.6.6 An index of the topics covered by the tables. Several members felt that this would be a welcome addition, as "Transport Statistics Great Britain" has a very helpful one. It was suggested that this be fed into the website search facility to allow easier navigation around the information.

Action: Mr Dixon to develop an index for "STS"

3.6.7 Showing only "expanded EU" countries with similar populations. The question was raised why select countries of a similar size to Scotland?, why not (e.g.) those with similar terrain?. Given that comparisons can be done by population rates, it was felt that the whole of Europe should be kept for comparison, with the table extending onto further pages.

3.6.8 Including 5- or 10-year moving averages. Dr McGuigan pointed out that these could be calculated by the individual user, if required, and would only complicate the graphs if shown.

3.6.9 It was agreed there was no need to consider dropping sections to make space, as few additions had been proposed.

3.6.10 It was agreed to continue to produce the "Key Transport Statistics" card in the same format.

3.6.11 The need for, and means of, access to "less aggregated" data; users sometimes found that the geography is never exactly right for the purpose required in published data. The SHS data could not be provided for data zones, although these are now the standard for Neighbourhood Statistics, because of their small sizes. Dr Connolly said that it was important to have an ad hoc facility that used user-defined geographies. Mr Dixon stated that this is being considered for the SHS.

3.7 Committee members felt that the present means of publicising the availability of publications were sufficient. There were no comments on the other points in the paper.

4. TTSAC-Related ScotStat News TTSAC(04) 3

4.1 Dr Connolly introduced the paper. The list of other committees was provided to give a flavour of the interests. He highlighted two topics to be included on the agenda for the next meeting of the ScotStat Board :

  1. demographics and population change - he asked for any issues members wanted him to raise at the meeting, and
  2. Accessibility, for example, the planning of new hospitals and social inclusion issues, and he asked for points on a paper he was putting together.

4.2 The next ScotStat Board meeting is on the 19th of January 2005. Dr Connolly would email the agenda to the TTSAC Secretary for circulation. Any issues which members of TTSAC would like Dr Connolly to raise should be emailed to him in good time for the meeting.

Action: Members to raise any points with Dr Connolly.

Action: Mr Dixon is to draft a work plan and, in due course, a report on progress and email these to committee members for comments ( "crime on public transport" would be noted as a "cross cutting" project)

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

5. Some developments in SE statistics, uses of other data, and measures of "access to services" - TTSAC(04) 4

5.1 Mr Dixon described some developments in SE statistics, including the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) and the inclusion of some "drive time" information about "access to services" in the Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics (SNS) website. Dr Connolly commented on the weakness of an "access" measure defined only in terms of the car, and Dr Raeside noted that the estimated times took no account of traffic congestion.

5.2 Dr Connolly covered some other sources of information about transport in Scotland: for example, the Transport Model for Scotland provides multi-modal forecasts for the area it covers (which does not include Inverness and the Highlands), the Transport Economic and Land-use Model of Scotland gives other information, Traveline holds valuable information and Accession software brings together a lot of data, identifies areas of poor accessibility and allows "accessibility planning" analysis for local areas. In her comments on paragraph 3.5 of the paper Marjory Rodger pointed out that Journey Plan is the supplier to Traveline Scotland in that Journey Plan maintain the database. However, the data is supplied direct by electronic feed by the large operators and by electronic feed from the local transport authorities. Traveline Scotland owns the intellectual property rights to the database. The data is not supplied by Journey Plan. Also, the Web address for Traveline should have only one "l".

5.3 Accessibility analysis was discussed, and attention was drawn to the growing amount of data on speed and congestion of vehicles other than commercial ones. "Tracking" data, although potentially biased (by the nature of the vehicles covered), provides information regarding travel speeds as different times of day. Reference was made to papers being presented at the TSUG seminar in the afternoon

  • "Trunk Road Congestion Monitoring and the Use of GPS/Mobile Phone Data" - Ian Anderson, Scottish Executive and David Hamilton, Datagen.
  • "Transport Model for Scotland" - Kevin Lumsden, MVA and David Simmonds, The David Simmonds Consultancy.

5.3.1 Mr Dixon asked how "generalised travel costs" and "access to employment" might be added to the Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics system. Mr Davison pointed out that travel time as an indicator of accessibility has been done in England and can easily be done in Scotland. "Deterrents" to travel were cost and reliability of transport. Travel time could be calculated at specific times of day (e.g. journeys to/from work) or averaged over the whole day. The calculations could be done for individual Census output areas, and accumulated to give overall results. Dr Connolly pointed out that the Transport Model for Scotland (TMfS) and Traveline could provide estimates of the costs. TMfS provided a lot of "distance based" information. Although fares might not be available from Traveline, they could be estimated on the basis of an amount for "boarding costs" and an amount that was a function of distance travelled: TMfS modelling using Strathclyde and Lothian fare tables produced results correct to within 20p. Accessibility would normally be measured with and without a car and a comparison of the two undertaken. "Nearest" opportunity had been looked at in the past, but now "overall" opportunity was considered more important, particularly for jobs. Mr Rhys-Tyler referred to the need to look at socio-economic characteristics (e.g. the elderly, young mothers etc).

5.3.2 Dr Connolly thought that Census-based data would usually suffice, usually the problem was the "destinations" data - "where are the jobs?". TELMoS knew where the jobs were, but its large zone sizes might be a problem. TMfS would be a good starting-point for "access to jobs", but not for "access to hospitals".

5.3.3 Committee members advised against using an overall "generalised travel cost" that was a weighted average of "car" and "public transport" costs: one should look at them separately, at the difference between them, and their ratio.

5.3.4 Mr Robertson noted that the services currently shown by Neighbourhood Statistics were all "local" ones and suggested that "Hospitals" and "Further/Higher Education" be added. Ms Bell pointed out the need to specify the type of hospital service (e.g. A&E, maternity).

5.3.5 It was felt worthwhile to set up a sub group on 'Accessibility'. Those expressing an interest were Dr David Connolly, Mr Paul Davison, Mr Ron Hunter plus a community planning colleague, Dr Robert Raeside and Ms Alison Bell.

Action: Mr Dixon to organise this.

6. The Transport Part of the Scottish Executive Statistics Plan TTSAC(04) 5

6.1 Publications - the Committee was content with the schedule of publications.

6.2 Mr Hunter asked for the "regional" bus patronage figures to be made available on the website in advance of the publication of SE's bulletin.

Action: Mr Dixon to arrange

6.3 Website - It was pointed out that some official websites were not set up to adequately guide the user back to the start of the document, (one cannot use the 'bread crumb' trail and a link to the parent page is "forgotten").

Action: Dr Connolly to send an example of this to Mr Dixon/Ms Roberts, who will liaise with the SE/DfT web people.

6.4 Developments of Publications - The possibility of DfT style 'topic reports' for specialised areas was discussed. Would Aviation and Maritime Statistics merit their own publications? Probably not: other Committee members did not express interest in these. The Civil Aviation Authority is the principal source of "aviation" data, and made a lot of detailed tables available on its website, and DfT is the main source of statistics on water transport, for example publishing some more detailed port-by-port figures. Mr Davison referred to aviation's increasing environmental effect. Ms Roberts said that DfT did not currently produce a statistical bulletin on aviation but would be prepared to consider it if there was thought to be value in it. It was agreed that nothing be done just now.

6.5 Mr Dixon asked if a "Summary Transport Statistics" bulletin would be useful to provide an overview of the main trends in transport in Scotland. Dr Connolly said that a summary by an expert of what lay behind the trends (e.g. why the lengths of shopping trips have grown), and their implications, would be very useful. Ms Roberts agreed that ad hoc articles commissioned from academics or industry experts would help get behind the figures but should not delay the publication. However, other committee members noted that the selection of points would be subjective, and emphasised the need to distinguish between the data and their interpretation. Mr Dixon concluded that there was no clear requirement for any particular type of new publication.

6.6 Committee members had no comments on the other matters covered by the paper, and were content with the draft Transport Statistics branch plan.

7. Any Other Business

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

7.2 It was agreed that the next meeting should be in about a year (Autumn 2005) and on the same day as the next Tri/TSUG seminar. Subgroups to meet as required.