Image of London buses

Review of Transport Accessibility Statistics

10 February 2022
Last updated:
25 April 2022

Our recommendations

In this section we set out our recommendations for the statistical system to improve the provision of statistics and wider understanding about the accessibility of transport.

  • ‘Policy departments’ refer to the four main Government bodies with policy responsibility for transport across the UK: Department for Transport, Welsh Government, Transport Scotland and the Department for Infrastructure.
  • ‘All producers’ refers to the four policy departments above, plus the three other transport Official Statistics producers in the UK: Transport Focus, Office of Rail and Road and Transport for Wales.
  • It would be beneficial if other organisations, such as the Cabinet Office Disability Unit, Transport for London and Translink, applied recommendations written for ‘All producers’

1. Develop statistics which reflect the lived experience of disabled people to support a focus on removing barriers to access

Producers need to develop statistics that reflect the barriers individuals, such as people with disabilities, face when accessing transport. These include understanding the reasons why individuals do not use public transport when they might want to, and the problems they face completing journeys. By moving to a model of defining disability that reflects social barriers, not just impairments, policy makers will better understand the experiences of individuals. Specifically:

1.1 As part of their development of a new survey of disabled people exploring barriers to social participation, the Cabinet Office Disability Unit should produce statistics exploring the reasons why disabled people are unable to access transport as much as they would like, including around confidence to travel, and the issues faced between legs of journeys including experiences of changing between transport modes.

1.2 During the development of their new public transport statistics report, the Department for Infrastructure should explore ways to produce statistics about the accessibility of buses and coaches for those with a wide of range of accessibility issues, for example through passenger experience surveys.

1.3 During the development of the new National Travel Survey for Wales, Transport for Wales should review their sampling frame and questionnaire to ensure it follows best practice on reflecting lived experience.

1.4 All producers should ensure they use the current relevant harmonised questions (long lasting health conditions and illness, activity restriction, and impairments), or more granular questions which are compatible with the harmonised standards, and should keep informed of ONS developments of new measures of disability. Producers should be prepared to trial or implement new harmonised questions when available from the GSS Harmonisation Team.

1.5 As part their work to develop new harmonised standards, the GSS Harmonisation Team should develop high level grouping to enable publication of data that represent different experiences – for example high level barrier groupings, and/or high-level impairment groupings such as visible/invisible impairment, or mobility/cognitive/sensory.

2. Develop fully inclusive statistical approaches to ensure everyone is counted

Improvements to statistical processes will enable the collection of more diverse views and ultimately improve the decisions made based on these statistics. Both the GSS and the Inclusive Data Taskforce play a role in this space.

The Inclusive Data Taskforce have addressed many of issues we have identified in their recommendations, and we have included in this report those which we think are particularly relevant for producing statistics about the accessibility of transport. As a priority, producers should plan to deliver all of the Inclusive Data Taskforce’s recommendations under Principle 1 along with Recommendation 3.7. Full details of these recommendations, along with others mentioned in the report are in Annex C.

The GSS Best Practice and Impact team has produced guidance to improve the accessibility of statistics, including making analytical publications accessible and making spreadsheets accessible for screen readers. We think further guidance around producing easily accessible surveys would be helpful. Specifically:

2.1 The Inclusive Data Taskforce set out recommendations to support producers to be more inclusive with their data. Producers should put in place plans to deliver relevant recommendations, for example those under Principle 1 to ‘create an environment of trust and trustworthiness which allows and encourages everyone to count and be counted in UK data and evidence’ and recommendation 3.7 to evaluate the coverage of non-private household population groups in UK data and take the necessary action to address those missing from the current data. Full details in Annex C.

2.2 To support the delivery of this recommendation, the GSS should develop guidance around ensuring surveys can be completed by those with disabilities. Producers should ensure their collection methods and outputs reflect best practice guidance.

3. Publish more statistics, data and analysis to help identify areas for improvements to the accessibility of transport   

Producers should aim to publish data and analysis that are already being collected or produced to improve transparency of ministerial statements and policy development, and to increase clarity and value from the findings. Producers should explore survey data to identify where further demographic breakdowns may help shine a light on different experiences of the accessibility of transport. Specifically:

3.1 Following the current audit of station accessibility being led by the Department for Transport, the Department for Transport and the Office of Rail and Road should work together to publish, and regularly update, statistics about the accessibility of train stations across GB, covering accessible infrastructure to support those with different types of disabilities (such as step free access for those with mobility impairments) and geographical breakdowns.

3.2 The Department for Transport should explore whether new or existing data (for example the English National Travel Survey) can be used to fill data gaps highlighted in the report, for example around community and coach travel.

3.3 Transport Scotland and Transport for Wales should publish internal analysis on journey times, and seek user engagement on what else is needed to support local understanding and policy development.

3.4 Office of Rail and Road should work with the Department for Transport and the Rail Delivery Group to develop a publication about the use and impact of railcards, drawing on data from Rail Delivery Group and other sources, such as the English National Travel survey.

3.5 All statistics producers should explore where further demographic breakdowns of survey data can provide new insights into the experiences of different population groups, and publish data where this could be of interest to users. For example, new urban-rural splits of national figures, and more age breakdowns, such as focussing on the experiences of younger adults.

4. Bring data and statistics together into one place, to tell a coherent story and support users to answer questions about accessible transport

Statistics producers should help users to find, understand and reuse the wide array of data available about the accessibility of transport across the UK. Specifically:

4.1 All producers should improve their user engagement and awareness of user needs, particularly in light of the GSS User Engagement Strategy, to improve awareness of their statistics, and ensure that they are continuing to develop their outputs to meet users’ requirements.

4.2 Statistics producers in policy departments should support users to find and interpret relevant statistics about the accessibility of transport in their devolved administration. For example:

    • Welsh Government could develop a new publication drawing on the available data about the accessibility of transport specific to Wales, including Census 2021 data to set out relevant demographics and the new data sources mentioned within this report.
    • The Department for Infrastructure could ensure that its new statistics publication on public transport includes, or signposts users towards, available data about the accessibility of transport specific to Northern Ireland, including Census 2021 data about relevant demographics and the new data sources mentioned within this report.
    • Transport Scotland could continue to develop their Disability and Transport publication to ensure it supports Government and the public to monitor whether the National Transport Strategy and Accessible Travel Framework are achieving their desired outcomes, introducing time series data and drawing on other sources of data where already available.

5. Publish data to enable the impact of strategies to be evaluated and improvements to accessibility identified

Statistics producers should publish baseline data and regular updates which allow short, medium and long terms impacts of strategies to improve the accessibility of transport to be independently evaluated. Policy departments should be open about how impacts can be monitored for the lifetime of the strategy. Specifically:

5.1 Policy departments should draw on the expertise of statisticians, and other analytical professionals, to be clear with users about how they, and the public, will be able to evaluate the short-term and long-term impacts of their transport strategies.

5.2 Statistics producers in policy departments should publish data, metrics and statistics which support the evaluation of strategies in accessible formats to enable those with an interest to carry out their own analysis and track progress over time.

Back to top
Download PDF version (493.07 KB)