What we found
This review was wide-ranging, cutting across many different areas related to statistics about the accessibility of transport. We heard lots of issues – from specific data gaps and requirements for more granularity, to concerns with the way data are defined, collected and published.
We found that, for a variety of reasons, existing official statistics are not fully answering the key questions of those with an interest in the accessibility of transport networks, although there are some specific areas of good practice. We heard that most organisations and individuals with an interest in understanding the accessibility of transport are interested because they want to see the accessibility of transport improved.
Across the UK we found differences in the availability of statistics on the accessibility of transport. We also found that there were differences in what users wanted from the statistics.
- In England, we found significant demand for statistics about the accessibility of transport from within and outside of Government and from the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee. We found a wide range of data available. Despite the significant amounts of data published, there are some gaps to be filled.
- In Wales, we identified fewer statistics about the accessibility of transport, however there was a notable amount of general interest in the area, both within and outside of Government.
- In Scotland, we did not identify a significant demand for data beyond internal Government and the Mobility and Access Committee. Other organisations we spoke to were, on the whole, able to answer their questions with their own more qualitative information sources.
- In Northern Ireland, once again the main demand for data that we identified came from within Government and from the Inclusive Mobility and Transport Advisory Committee. We found that some data collections cover only Great Britain, which limits the statistics available to users in Northern Ireland on some topics.
Despite differing levels of interest and engagement, many of the concerns and issues we identified are common across the UK. Where concerns are specific to one particular country, this is flagged within the report.
In the following five sections we outline what we consider are the key issues with statistics and data on transport accessibility, and support these with examples and case studies demonstrating good practice in this area.
In sections one and two we focus on improving statistics to better reflect the experiences and concerns of disabled people in particular. In section three we explore the provision of data to answer questions about broader aspects of accessible travel. In sections four and five we discuss how improvements to the publication of data and statistics can help better meet user needs.
1. Findings: Reflect the lived experience
Statistics, data and analysis could better reflect the lived experience of disabled people to support a focus on removing barriers to access.
There can be many reasons why individuals are not able to access transport in the way they would like. During our stakeholder engagement the most mentioned accessibility issues related to the barriers faced by disabled people. Often statistics did not reflect their lived experience.
Lived experience is defined as ‘the experience(s) of people on whom a social issue, or combination of issues, has had a direct impact’.
Inconsistencies in defining disability and impairment types
All the main surveys relating to experiences of transport networks in the UK ask a question to identify whether the respondent is disabled or has a long-term health condition and, in most cases, at least some data are published with a disabled / not disabled split. These breakdowns show at a high level how the lived experiences of people with disabilities varies from those without.
Statistics could go further to explore issues specific to disabled people and make it easier to explore how the experience of people with different disabilities varies dependant on their different lived experiences. Improving statistics in these ways would make it easier to identify specific barriers to travel, which could lead to improvements in the transport network.
The Government Statistical Service (GSS) has published three harmonised standards which relate to disability. The first asks about long lasting health conditions and illness and the second about activity restriction; these two combined identify people who are disabled as defined by the Equality Act 2010. The third identifies specific impairments. However, we heard that there is often inconsistency in the use of questions to identify disabled people and to collect data about specific impairments.
These inconsistencies can make it difficult to understand the barriers faced by specific groups and to plan improvements and tell a coherent story when bringing different sources of data together. For example, the Scottish Government Scottish Household Survey list of impairments are different to the GSS Harmonised Standard. Respondents can select more than one impairment type, with some categories potentially overlapping (for example ‘Arthritis’ and ‘Problems or disabilities related to arms or hands’ are both listed). We heard that these differences can complicate onward use of data.
We heard that some users of statistics would like questions to go further than the GSS harmonised questions. They would like to see questions based around a social model, rather than medical model, of disability. The charity Scope explains that a social model recognises that “people are disabled by barriers in society, not by their impairment or difference”. Depending on the context, this could mean asking questions such as “How far can you walk?” “Is standing a problem?” “Do you need assistance?”.
The UK Statistics Authority Inclusive Data Taskforce recommendations report, published in September 2021, sets out recommendations for improving the UK’s inclusive data holdings and infrastructure. The report includes a recommendation that “as a priority, ONS should transition its measures of disability to approaches more firmly based upon the WHO ICF and ICF-CY biopsychosocial model conceptual frameworks.” The Taskforce made a further recommendation that “Data producers should use harmonised standards when collecting data, or more granular systems which are compatible with the harmonised standards, to improve comparability and better use existing data”.
We welcome the GSS Harmonisation Team’s plans to build on the recommendation of the Inclusive Data Taskforce and review the harmonised definition of disability.
We found that where impairment specific data are collected, they are often not published because sample sizes are too small to provide breakdowns for each of the 10 impairments included in the harmonised standard, meaning statistical publications do not fully reflect different types of impairments.
Case study: Transport Focus Datahub
Transport Focus use the GSS Harmonised definition for impairment in their National Rail Passenger Survey. In the Transport Focus Datahub, users are able to explore data to see how passengers with different demographics respond to each question.
For example, looking at data for 2018 and 2019 combined, it is possible to see how ‘ease of ticket purchase’ varies by impairment type. Overall, 79% of eople with a disability said it was ‘very or fairly good’, slightly lower than the 83% of people without a disability who found it ‘very or fairly good’. Looking within impairment type, there is much more variation with 81% of people with a mobility impairment finding it ‘very of fairly good’ which is much higher than the 61% of people with a ‘learning of understanding or concentrating impairment’ who said the same.
In many cases, when looking at individual waves of data, the sample sizes for individual impairment groups is too small for meaningful analysis (results based on fewer than 75 responses are suppressed within the tool). To help overcome small sample sizes, Transport Focus have introduced three summary impairment groupings – movement, sensory and cognitive/mental health. When looking at the question ‘How train met needs as passenger with disability’ which has only been asked in two waves of the survey, these groupings make it possible to see how experiences vary, with 65% if passengers with sensory impairments satisfied, compared to 56% of passengers with mental health/cognitive impairments satisfied (looking at data from Autumn 2017 and Autumn 2018 combined).
We would encourage Transport Focus to do more to draw user’s attention to this tool and the in-depth analysis which it enables.
Whole journey and journeys that don’t happen
We heard that statistics do not always provide an accurate representation of how disabled people experience the transport network holistically.
Understanding the whole experience is critical to knowing whether the transport network is meeting users’ needs. As statistics are typically broken into measuring constituent parts of the transport experience, for example passenger assistance requests or the number of accessible buses, they are not currently capturing entire journeys. This is significant. It means statistics producers are unable to quantify how many opportunities people have missed out on due to failures or barriers in the transport network as a whole.
Users told us that, as the current statistics focus more on individual modes of transport, information is not being captured about whether disabled people are able to make complete journeys the way they had intended to. As an example, making a journey relies on more than just using a bus or a train. It involves activities such as planning a route and feeling confident enough to embark on it, leaving the house and getting to the stop or station, boarding and alighting the vehicle, connecting to subsequent legs which might be required and ultimately arriving at a desired destination at the time that is wanted.
We found that individuals are missing from statistics, as they are not being asked about activities they have been unable to take part in. For example, the National Rail Passenger Survey is based on passengers departing stations, and therefore does not capture the experiences of those who wished to make a train journey but were unable to, perhaps because they had difficulties in planning the journey, or because their lack of confidence had been a barrier to travel. Whilst we recognise that this is an appropriate sampling frame for this particular survey, we note that since the Life Opportunities Survey (which provided data on how disabled and non-disabled people participate in society) ended in 2015, there has not been a regular survey in the UK exploring the barriers to transport of disabled people who have been unable to make their preferred journey.
We welcome the Cabinet Office Disability Unit’s commitment within the National Disability Strategy to start a new survey of disabled people exploring barriers to social participation. We believe this is an opportunity to fill some of the gaps around the whole journey and the journeys that do not happen.
Current statistics highlight that disabled people make fewer journeys than non-disabled people. They also make shorter journeys. Many users told us about the importance of confidence in making journeys.
Transport Scotland’s Disability and Transport: Findings from the Scottish Household Survey finds that disabled people are less positive about the journeys they made, stating that they felt less safe, and with fewer disabled people agreeing it was ‘easy to change from bus to other transport’ compared to non-disabled people. These differences are not easily explainable by the current available statistics, but understanding more about the confidence disabled people have in using the transport network may contribute towards understanding the reasons behind this difference.
Users also reported to us that transportation companies focus on complying with accessibility legislation, such as the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) in Northern Ireland or the Equality Act (2010) in Great Britain, but do not do enough to ensure the transport needs of disabled people are being fully met.
Northern Ireland transport statistics show that all buses and coaches in Northern Ireland are wheelchair accessible, suggesting compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act. However, users in Northern Ireland told us that not all bus or coach stops are wheelchair accessible. Therefore, whilst the buses and coaches may fulfil the requirements of the legislation, the transport network is not fully accessible. Additionally, viewing accessibility solely focused on wheelchairs may mean the needs of all disabled passengers are not being met. The Department for Infrastructure are investigating how they can improve their statistics about the accessibility of buses, for example by including information about the percentage of fleet with audio visual announcements.
In the past, Translink, the main public transport provider in Northern Ireland, has commissioned a passenger experience survey, however it does not specifically ask about disability or accessibility requirements of passengers. Users told us that having more detailed knowledge of the accessibility requirements of disabled people in Northern Ireland would support efforts to ensure their diverse needs are being met. The Department for Infrastructure told us that a public transport monitoring group has recently been set up to develop a new passenger experience survey.
Case study: Office of Rail and Road
Passenger Assistance statistics detail how many disabled passengers requested passenger assistance using the National Passenger Assistance Booking System. These statistics do not cover whether the passenger was able to successfully make their journey the way they had intended to, whether they had encountered access fails, or whether they were satisfied with the assistance they received. Following research carried out by Transport Focus, Office of Rail and Road started commissioning regular research to understand how well the system is meeting the needs of users. The research explores what type of assistance is booked, the type of disability or condition the passenger has, and their experience, including whether they were confident they would get the assistance they required, whether they were able to complete their journey as planned, and satisfaction with the assistance provided.
Both Transport Focus and the Office for Rail and Road highlighted how this research has helped them to identify areas for improvements in the user experience.
These statistics, and the accompanying research do not include assistance which has not been pre-booked, such as ‘Turn up and Go’ assistance. We have encouraged the Office for Rail and Road to look into this.
2. Findings: Take a fully inclusive approach
A fully inclusive statistical approach is needed to ensure everyone is counted and better decisions are made.
During our research, we heard both directly and indirectly about the challenges in accessing statistics faced by those with impairments, highlighting concerns about the way that data are collected about disabled people, and how they are published. These concerns are relevant to statistics about the accessibility of transport and also more broadly.
Many surveys do not consistently collect the experiences of disabled or older people. Communal living establishments such as care homes are often not included in the sampling frame for household surveys. Disabled people living in such establishments are systematically excluded from statistics based on surveys that sample on a household basis. For example, as both the National Travel Survey in England and the Travel Survey for Northern Ireland are based on a sample of private households, individuals who may rely on accessible transport but live in other types of accommodation, such as sheltered accommodation or care homes, are not sampled.
In some situations individuals are included in the sampling frame, but are unable to complete surveys because adjustments to ensure the survey are accessible to them are not in place. For example, someone with a visual impairment may be unable to complete the survey because it cannot be interpreted by a screen reader, or someone with learning difficulties maybe be unable to respond because an easy read version is not provided. Some users also raised concerns about the way statistics are published, for example, because they cannot be read easily by screen readers. The Government Statistical Service provide support to statistics producers on making outputs more accessible for example, guidance on making analytical publications accessible and making spreadsheets accessible. We were reassured to hear that many producers have used this guidance to make improvements to their outputs.
The UK Statistics Authority’s Inclusive Data Taskforce noted the issues of data gaps in relation to the non-household population in their recommendations. The details of this recommendation, and others relevant to our findings, can be found in Annex C.
Case Study: Office for Disability Issues, Life Opportunities Survey
The Life Opportunities Survey from the Office for Disability Issues (now known as the Disability Unit) collected data from 2009 to 2014 in Great Britain. This survey allowed a comparison of the experiences of disabled and non-disabled people in work, education, social participation, transport and use of public services. Our research highlighted, although no longer carried out, this was a particularly good example of an accessible publication.
The survey had the advantage of being longitudinal, meaning that it was possible to gain insights into barriers faced by people over a period of time, and was designed to include disabled and non-disabled people. The sample for this survey came from British households, meaning people living in care or retirements home were not included.
To make data collection inclusive, an easy read information leaflet about the survey was produced. For respondents with welfare guardians, an information sheet was also produced to explain to them the purpose of the study and what it entailed. The survey was administered in an interview and interviewers received disability awareness training to guide them on interviewing adults with learning disabilities.
To make the findings of the survey more accessible, an easy read version and an audio version of the executive summary were provided for users.
3. Findings: Publish more statistics to identify areas for improvement
Publishing more statistics, data and analysis could help identify areas for improvement to the accessibility of transport.
In this next section we explore broader issues around the data that are available to answer questions about the accessibility of transport. We found that some statistics only exist at a high level and with limited detail. Where it would support greater understanding for users, we would encourage statistics producers to publish statistics from existing analysis and data sources. We have looked at the three most commonly mentioned barriers to travel: affordability, safety and journey times, as well as at modal specific data gaps and concerns about data granularity.
Having a better understanding of the affordability of transport is a priority for many. Two specific examples mentioned during our research relate to understanding journey costs and to understanding and improving the impact of reduced travel fare schemes.
Understanding journey costs
Users told us that a having a better understanding of the costs associated with different modes of transport is important for policy development. Across the UK, encouraging modal shift from private cars to more sustainable transport modes is a key strategic policy area. One motivation behind modal choice is cost, which is not well understood.
Data about the average cost per journey, for example costs for commuters of making the same journey by different modes of transport, is not currently published in England, Scotland, or Wales. In Northern Ireland, the Consumer Council has recently developed a data portal, which includes data about the average cost of journeys.
Case Study: Consumer Council, Transport Knowledge Hub
The Consumer Council in Northern Ireland has developed a Transport Knowledge Hub to make internal data about the average cost of travel available to consumers.
The hub presents data in a user friendly interactive dashboard and includes public transport prices across different regions in the UK, average flight and sea crossing costs and petrol and diesel prices. It also includes average commuter costs which breaks down the costs of commuting to Belfast by different modes of transport from different places within Northern Ireland.
Although data is not yet available, we welcome recent changes to the Scottish Household Survey which introduced questions about expenditure on public transport, fuel, and parking as well as questions which probe whether respondents have difficulties meeting travel costs and the extent to which their transport choices are affected by cost.
Reduced travel fares
One way to encourage the use of public transport and to make it more affordable is to offer reduced fares for specific groups of travellers. Concessionary travel fares are subsidised by local or central Governments, whilst some other reduced non-concessionary travel fares are subsidised in other ways, for example by the transport operating company. Across the UK, older people can apply for a bus pass which gives them access to free bus travel in their area, and National Rail sell a wide range of railcards which entitle the traveller to reduced fares on National Rail services. In Northern Ireland SmartPasses offer free or reduced fare travel on public transport for some travellers.
The Office of Rail and Road produce statistics about the number of Disabled Persons Railcards issued and in circulation in GB. The English National Travel Survey published by the Department for Transport provides some data about the take-up of age-based concessionary travel schemes in England. Transport Scotland publish data on the number of concessionary card holders and the number of journeys made by concessionary card holders in Scotland.
The Department for Infrastructure have recently published the results of their Northern Ireland Concessionary Fares Survey 2019 which explores how SmartPasses improve access to public transport. It found that a majority of respondents agreed the SmartPass helped them to be more active, more social, less reliant on friends and family, as well as their car, and more able to afford other things. The survey also provided insights into the reasons why respondents might find it difficult to use their passes; 9% responded that difficulty getting on and off vehicles was one reason they were prevented from using their pass, indicating that accessibility is a barrier for some.
Beyond the Northern Ireland Concessionary Fares Survey, there are very few statistics that evidence the impact of reduced travel fares on the accessibility of transport. Our research highlighted that little is known about who is using railcards and how they impact on the choices made by travellers or how this spend leads to improved outcomes for those who hold them. It is difficult to identify where changes to travel card policies in Great Britain would deliver best value for money and increase use of sustainable travel modes.
The Inclusive Transport Strategy: evaluation baseline report published by the Department for Transport includes data from their own Panel Survey. It found that “Just 10% of disabled people who had travelled by train in the last year had a Disabled Person’s Railcard. Of those disabled people who had travelled by train in the last year but did not have a Disabled Persons Railcard, a quarter were not aware they existed, and awareness was lower amongst those on low incomes. Thirty percent of disabled people had a concessionary bus pass, and around half of these were disability related passes.”
Feeling safe when travelling
Some organisations we engaged with raised concerns about the lack of, and poor quality of data available about physical abuse and hate crimes on public transport, particularly towards disabled people.
We found that some relevant statistics do exist, for example some organisations with responsibility for transport statistics ask about travellers’ perception of safety, and some organisations with responsibility for crime statistics publish counts of incidence of crime on transport. Both are helpful to understanding how accessible transport is from a safety perspective, however, in both cases we found that generally statistics are only available at a high level with limited detail, making the data difficult to analyse to form a coherent understanding of what is happening.
For England, the Home Office annually publish the number of recorded hate crime by Police Force Area, which includes the British Transport Police who police railways. Data is published by monitored hate crime strand, which includes disability.
The Crown Prosecution Service publishes figures for hate crime prosecutions as part of its quarterly data summaries. The hate crime annual data tables (table AR1), published as part of the quarter 4 release, contain figures for the number of pre-charge decisions on cases referred by the British Transport Police.
In addition, Transport Focus’ National Rail Passenger Survey asks passengers to rate their ‘personal security’ whilst using the station and train, and their bus passenger survey asks about ‘personal security’ whilst using the bus.
Transport for London publish a crime and incident statistical bulletin which includes data about hate crime by mode of transport within London.
For Wales, data is included in the Home Office and Crown Prosecution Service outputs mentioned above, whilst the National Survey for Wales biennially asks about the feeling of safety on public transport after dark. However, this is only available by two Equality Act 2010 protected characteristics: age and sex.
For Scotland, we were unable to find any regularly published statistics specifically about hate crimes on public transport however, the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey does explore where crimes take place, and data are published which show the proportion of violent crimes which take place ‘while travelling or near transport facilities’. Transport for Scotland have recently requested that questions about harassment on public transport are added to the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey. Currently, the Scottish Household Survey includes questions about ‘Feel[ing] safe and secure’ on the train and bus during the day and during the evening, and the results are published by Transport Scotland with a disability split.
For Northern Ireland, we were unable to find any regularly published statistics specifically about hate crimes on public transport. The Northern Ireland Travel Survey includes ‘Concerns over personal safety’ as an option when exploring barriers to travel for work and food shopping, and a question about the feeling of safety when using public transport was placed in the most recent Continuous Household Survey in Northern Ireland and published in the Active and Sustainable Travel statistical release.
We heard concerns that where statistics specifically about hate crime do exist, they do not fully represent the scale of hate crime, as, like with many types of crimes, many hate crimes are unreported. This issue has been explored by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services in this series of reports on hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales. We are currently reviewing hate crime statistics in more detail as part of our regulation of crime statistics.
The time it takes someone to get to their nearest mode of public transport, the number of onward connections they then make, combined with the overall journey time can have a big impact on the accessibility of transport. This is particularly important in the context of encouraging individuals to swap from private to public transport (modal shift).
Users told us about the importance that should be placed on understanding how far individuals live from their nearest bus stops. This was raised as being a particular issue in cities. Such information can support local authority planning and inform changes to services for example, when bus companies are considering how to increase the speed of services without unfairly reducing services in certain areas.
Different statistics are available across the UK to help explore this issue. The Travel Survey for Northern Ireland asks individuals how long it would take to walk to the nearest bus or train station, whilst Transport Scotland told us about their Scottish Access to Bus Indicator, which shows the areas which are most and least accessible by bus. Although data is available directly from Transport Scotland, it is more easily understood through analysis provided by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre.
Both Scottish Government and Welsh Government publish data on journey times by public and private transport to a range of predefined services as part of the Scottish and Welsh Indices of Multiple Deprivation, although supporting documentation and analysis to support interpretation of the journey times indicators are limited. In our research, we heard that Transport Scotland and Transport for Wales produce additional analysis of journey times data which is not currently published.
The Department for Transport regularly publishes Official Statistics on journey times.
Case Study: Department for Transport, Journey Times
Journey time statistics present estimates of travel times from where people live to key local services for England. These include average journey times to food stores, education, healthcare, town centres and employment centres by car, cycling, walking or public transport/walking. The statistics show how journey times vary by urban and rural classifications.
The Department for Transport told us that their journey time statistics have a wide range of uses. The Department use regional travel time to reach nearest large employment centre (region) metric as a performance metric in their Outcome Delivery Plan, and they feed into Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs’ Statistical Digest of Rural England. They are also used by Local Authorities to understand journey times in their areas.
Producing journey time statistics is complex and time consuming. We welcome the team’s ongoing engagement with users of statistics to ensure they are meeting user need and hence delivering greater value from the resource required to produce them.
Transport for London make data available through interactive tools to support those with responsibility for planning to understand public transport access levels and travel times across London.
Modal specific gaps
Whilst understanding whole journeys and moving away from focusing on individual legs of journeys is a key finding of this review, we also identified an interest in, and need for, statistics about specific parts of the transport network. We found that as different parts of the transport network are operated by different types of organisations, be it public bodies, private operators or the voluntary sector, there are a variety of different challenges in collecting data.
We found opportunities to improve data about a variety of modes of transport. This included Community Transport in England, bus and coach travel in Northern Ireland, and, following the Department for Transport’s station accessibility audit, the accessibility of railway stations across Great Britain. In addition, our research highlighted concerns that statistics about walking and wheeling and taxi services do not reflect the lived experiences of disabled people.
We have provided more details on these issues, broken down by modes of transport, in Annex D: Modal data.
Users told us of their need for more geographical and demographic information. When statistics are presented in a more granular way, they can better support comparisons, such as with age, geography, and socio-economic status. Users told us about the benefits from having information on more than one category at a time, for example, being able to understand the impact of being disabled, having a lower socioeconomic status and how location can affect this.
Across the UK, where statistics do exist, often they are not of sufficient granularity to be able to answer questions about the experiences of different groups. When thinking about the accessibility of transport, geography plays an important role. The experiences of those in towns and cities can be very different to those who live in the countryside. Often sample sizes are too small to allow for local authority or regional breakdowns.
Users told us that more geographical information would be beneficial, particularly in being able to differentiate the experiences of those living in urban areas and those who live in rural areas. This is particularly an issue in Wales and Northern Ireland. Both nations have relatively large rural populations: 33% of the population of Wales live in a rural area (based on data from the 2011 census) and 35% of the population of Northern Ireland live in a rural area (based on 2017 data from NISRA). In Wales, data for average journey times to a variety of services by public and private transport are published by Urban Rural classification, as part of the Welsh Indices of Multiple Deprivation. However, little is known about how many disabled people live in rural settings and how much living in a rural setting impacts on the availability of accessible transport.
The Travel Survey for Northern Ireland publishes statistics on how many men and women in the sample have difficulty with travel due to physical disability, including a breakdown of ages. However, there is no information provided about how many disabled people live in urban and rural environments.
Transport Scotland’s publication Disability and Transport does elaborate on this, stating that there is no difference between disabled and non-disabled people in terms of the location where they live, as the same proportion of disabled people live in urban locations as non-disabled people (83%). However, there is no further information provided comparing the experiences of disabled people and non-disabled people in urban-rural settings.
Users also told us that a greater number of age breakdowns would be beneficial, for example to identify whether the experiences of young adults with disabilities varies from that of older adults with disabilities.
More demographic breakdowns would be valuable for users to understand how well the transport network is meeting people’s needs. However, small sample sizes in data collection makes it difficult to provide this granular information. As an example, users felt that annual household surveys sample so few disabled people that meaningful data cannot be extracted.Back to top
4. Findings: Bring data and statistics together
Bringing data and statistics together helps present a coherent story and supports users to answer questions about accessible transport.
We found that both qualitative and quantitative data are needed to understand the experiences of those accessing transport.
Qualitative data provides rich insights into specific experiences, enabling researchers to gain an understanding of the lived experience of individuals. Quantitative data can give insight into the extent of the issues, how much they affect different groups and how these are changing over time.
When qualitative and quantitative data are brought together, they help to paint an insightful and engaging picture. A good example of this is the research publication Accessible Transport: Unlocking a better normal produced by Transport Focus.
Some users were not aware of the extent of available data and statistics, suggesting that engagement with users could be improved and existing publications could be promoted more.
We welcome the Department for Transport and Transport Scotland’s new publications, Transport: disability and accessibility statistics and Disability and Transport, and have set out our views in letters to the Department for Transport and Transport Scotland on how they can be further improved.
We also welcome the recent consultation carried out by the Department for Infrastructure on replacing the Northern Ireland Transport Statistics report with a statistical report focussed on Public Transport, which would be published alongside supporting management information. As set out in the consultation response the new report, which is being developing with Translink, will focus in part on the accessibility of transport.
Even when users have identified the relevant statistics, data or analysis, many publications only provide a snapshot of experiences. For example, Accessing Health Services in Wales: Transport Issues and Barriers, published by the Older People’s Commissioner in Wales and Disabled rail passengers research commissioned by Transport Focus on behalf of the Department for Transport, are helpful for diagnosing issues and informing policy development however, as they reflect a single period of time, provide only limited value for those with an interest in impacts over time. Due to changes with the way data was collected through the Covid-19 pandemic, Disability and Transport published by Transport Scotland also does not yet provide time series data.
Case Study: Department for Transport, Transport: Disability and Accessibility Statistics
The Department for Transport has brought together a wide range of data sources to create the publication, Transport: Disability and Accessibility Statistics for England. This contains data from the Department for Transport’s National Travel Survey and National Travel Attitudes Survey, as well as data collected by other organisations, such as Transport Focus, the Office of Rail and Road, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and the privately run National Highways and Transport Survey.
The publication also signposts users to other relevant data and statistics, such as the Department for Transport ‘All Change? Travel Tracker’ publication, which is a longitudinal study into how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on travel.
The Department for Transport have included some time series data, so users can see changes in statistics over time. These include the number of buses, private hire vehicles and taxis with accessibility certificates, the number of authorities who require taxi drivers to have disability awareness training, and the number of blue badges issued annually.
5. Findings: Publish data to evaluate the impact of strategies
Publishing data enables the impact of strategies to be evaluated and improvements to accessibility to be identified.
The development and publication of Government strategies offers a significant opportunity for departments to develop new surveys and other data sources. Value and insight are maximised when data are published in a way that can be analysed by anyone with an interest in the topic area, particularly when they allow for analyses looking at change over time.
In England, we welcome the recent publication by the Department for Transport of the Inclusive Transport Strategy baseline evaluation report and the supporting scorecard which gives users the ability to see change over time of key metrics used to track the impact of the strategy. We note that it has taken more than three years following the publication of the strategy for this baseline report to be published, although we understand it is in part due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We were encouraged by the Department for Transports’ work to run a panel survey of both disabled and non-disabled people, which has provided important new insights.
We welcome the Department for Transport’s plans for a follow-up evaluation in 2023, including repeating this survey. However, as ‘the overall goal of the strategy is to create a transport system that offers equal access for disabled passengers by 2030’, we are concerned that the longer-term evaluation mechanism is not in place.
In Wales, there is very limited specific data about the travel experience of disabled and older people. This means that some of the analysis to support the development of the Wales Transport strategy is based on either old data or proxy data from England. Whilst we welcome the publication of the background report setting out the analysis supporting the development of the Wales Transport Strategy we note that it references unpublished data which could be of wider interest to the public, particularly in tracking progress of the strategy. We welcome the work underway in both Welsh Government and Transport for Wales to bring together and, where necessary, develop data to support the strategy’s evaluation framework. This includes Welsh Government and Transport for Wales plans to introduce a new National Travel Survey for Wales as part of their strategy evaluation work.
In Scotland, the Accessible Travel Framework was published in 2016. It aims to support disabled people’s rights by removing barriers and improving access to travel, and to ensure disabled people are fully involved in work to improve all aspects of travel. The accessible travel framework helpfully sets out a list of ‘Initial Indicators’ which lists each of the framework’s outcomes, together with an initial set of measurements that could indicate if they are being achieved. However, baseline data and updates to the data are not published together in one place to allow progress to be monitored. Transport Scotland explained that, as part of the annual delivery model for the framework, annual delivery plans are now produced in agreement with disabled people, organisations that represent them and the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland Transport Scotland, and that they have started publishing progress reports. To help monitor impact, the statistical team have developed a new publication Disability and Transport.
The National Transport Strategy 2, published in February 2020 reiterated a commitment to the vision of the accessible travel framework. Due to the pandemic, priorities in Scottish transport have changed slightly, but the National Transport Strategy Delivery Plan 2020-2022 published in December 2020, continues to focus on reducing inequalities to access transport in Scotland.
The Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy, published in August 2021, for the National Transport Strategy sets out how the strategy will be evaluated, drawing on both quantitative and qualitative data. Transport Scotland explained to us that their newly developed publication Disability and Transport will also support the evaluation of the accessibility elements of their National Transport Strategy. We welcome this monitoring and evaluation strategy, and encourage Transport Scotland to ensure that all of the underpinning data are published in a user-friendly, accessible way.
In Northern Ireland, an Executive Disability Strategy is currently under development by the Department for Communities as part of a suite of four new Social Inclusion Strategies. Reporting and monitoring arrangements for the Disability Strategy are currently in development and will be subject to consultation. We encourage the Department for Communities to consider how the strategy will be evaluated and to publish their plans in an accessible way.
In addition, the Department for Infrastructure are developing a new Regional Strategic Transport Network Transport Plan which will set out future investment and improvements to Northern Ireland’s strategic transport networks by road, rail and bus. We would similarly encourage the Department for Infrastructure to be clear how the delivery of their plans will be monitored and evaluated.Back to top