British Social Attitudes Survey 2014: Public attitudes towards transport

James Coe Banner

Last week the government released the results of an extensive survey into public attitudes toward transport.  We have drawn out some of the key findings, and looked at how evolving attitudes to transport impacts on the role of community transport operators.

What is it?

The British Social Attitudes Survey on attitudes toward transport has been carried out every year since 1996, the results are compiled from a representative sample of adults over 18 through a mixture of face to-face interviews and questionnaires.  The report covers four main aspects of travel; current travel behaviours and willingness to change, attitudes to transport and the environment, attitudes to congestion, road building and exhaust fumes, and attitudes to road safety.  In total there were 2,878 respondents.

The full report that this blog is based on can be found here.

What did we learn?

For journeys less than two miles travelled by car 41% of respondents said they could just as easily cycle.  39% said they could just as easily walk, while 32% said they could just as easily take the bus.  Only 27% of respondents said they travelled by local bus at least once a week.  18% of respondents said they did not own or have regular access to a car.

Willingness to switch to other modes of transport than the car decreases with age.   Those aged over 65 disagreed significantly more than any other age group that they could switch to walking and cycling.  The report suggests this could be due to the increase of mobility difficulties with older age.

Nearly 2/3rds of respondents agreed that those who use cars that inflict the least damage on the environment should pay the less to use the roads.  The report highlights an increasing awareness from respondents on the impact of transport, and human activity, has on the environment.  Concerns about exhaust fumes are also on the rise.

Approximately 3 in 10 drivers considered motorway congestion to be a major problem.  In addition around 48% of drivers believed that congestion in towns and cities is a problem.

85% of respondents said that if drivers have consumed any alcohol they should not be permitted to drive.  88% of people agreed that motorists should drive within the speed limit.
How does this relate to community transport?
A significant number of respondents suggested a willingness to leave their cars for short journeys.  This fits in with broader research that car travel may not have been as desirable as it once was.  In developing a multi-modal integrated transport network it is apparent that community transport plays a role in providing short journeys, especially for older people who are the least likely to change their transport habits.  The growth and development of community transport operations could see a further increase in a willingness to leave cars behind for a short journey.

The concern of the environmental impact of transport, coupled with concerns over congestion, again highlights the important of communal transport.  Clearly, effective community transport links as part of a wider integrated bus, train and tram network, will play an important role in alleviating some of these environmental concerns.

Road safety continues to be a concern for road users.   We believe that regulation has to be responsive to the needs of road users, and developed in consultation with road users.  As part of this message we will be responding to the Department for Transport’s Motoring Services Strategy and advocating for responsive, flexible, and effective road regulation.

Anything Else?

From now until the 14th February we are running a #lovetransport campaign, where we will be sharing news , commissioning guest blogs, and promoting stories that show what transport means to a range of people.  If you have some of your own reflections on why you love transport you can email James@ctauk.org and we’ll publish it on our blog along with the other activity we’re undertaking as part of this campaign.

James Coe

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