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Paper 29th April 2002 - TTSAC(02)3



1. At the first meeting of the Committee members asked SE to provide background information on the costs of compiling transport statistics for Scotland. This paper provides information on the costs of Transport Statistics branch within SE and an indication of the costs of some of the key sources of information used by the branch to produce transport statistics.

2. Members of the Committee are invited to note and comment on this report.


3. As noted in discussion at the meeting a high proportion of the information which we compile and publish comes from sources which we do not directly control, and which support other statistical and non-statistical activities in government. It is not, therefore sensible to try to produce a single figure as the 'cost' of compiling the statistics. This paper, therefore, aims to draw out key features of the type and scale of some of the main resources used to compile and publish transport statistics for Scotland.

4. It is important to note that the costs shown aim to give a broad indication of scale and nothing more. In particular the costs given are based on a range of different sources, covering different time periods - for example some are based on estimates produced during reviews conducted a few years ago.

Main cost elements

Transport Statistics Branch

5. This is a relatively small statistics branch within the Executive comprising two professional staff - a statistician and assistant - with 21/2 (FTE) administrative support staff. The Scottish Executive Statistics Plan shows the estimated overall costs of the branch including overheads and a share of senior professional time as £166th in 2002-03. This compares with a total cost of Scottish Executive statistics of £7.0m in 2002-03.

Road accident statistics

6. In addition to managing the wide range of transport statistical publications, a significant part of the effort of the administrative team is devoted to managing the systems for collating and analysing information on each injury road accident in Scotland. In addition to providing regularly published and ad-hoc statistics on injury road accidents in Scotland the information is also provided to DTLR for use in UK statistical analyses and is provided to the Road Network Management and Maintenance Division within SE for road safety assessment.

7. The costs to police forces and local authorities of compiling the road accidents information and supplying it to SE in electronic format is estimated at around £315th per year. Local authorities also use this information for road safety assessment.

Road traffic estimates

8. The Road Network Management and Maintenance Division within SE manages and pays for the collection of the manual and automatic traffic counts in Scotland used by DTLR statisticians to compile annual road traffic estimates for Scotland. The current cost to SE of those counts which are undertaken solely for the purpose of compiling the road traffic estimates is some £360th per year. There will be additional costs incurred by DTLR in turning the raw count data into estimates.

Household travel patterns

9. A significant part of the Scottish Household Survey (SHS) covers personal transport, including a 'travel diary' section covering the previous day's travel details. The SHS, which costs some £750th per year serves a much wider range of statistical and research needs. There is no straightforward way of apportioning SHS costs across the wide range of policy information uses which it supports. In very broad terms somewhere between a quarter and a third of the cost might be regarded as attributable to the provision of transport related information.

10. We regularly publish summary results for Scotland from the National Travel Survey, addressing the limitations of the small Scottish sample size by combining data for consecutive years. The estimated cost of the NTS sample in Scotland is some £120th per year.

Business surveys

11. The main part of the information published in the annual Bus and Coach Statistics bulletin comes from the Bus and Coach PSV operator survey - a GB wide survey conducted by DTLR. Assuming a Scottish share of 10%, the total cost attributable to Scotland, including the costs to the operators of compiling and supplying the information is around £20th per year.

12. Road freight statistics for Scotland published in Scottish Transport Statistics are derived mainly from information compiled by DTLR in the Domestic Road Freight Survey. Assuming a Scottish share of 10%, the total cost attributable to Scotland, including the costs to the operators of compiling and supplying the information is around £35th per year.

Other sources of statistical information about transport

13. There are many other sources of statistical information about transport not covered in this paper. For example the Scottish Executive conducts many traffic counts and surveys to collect data for trunk road network management and the Transport Model for Scotland (formerly Central Scotland Transport Model), DTLR provides statistics on several other topics (such as water borne freight and vehicle licensing), the Population Census provides some information about transport, the Civil Aviation Authority produces a range of data on air transport, the Association of Train Operating Companies supplies rail passenger numbers, and so on.


14. The aim of this paper has been to provide members with a guide to the broad scale of the main resources used to compile and disseminate some of the transport statistics for Scotland. The list is not exhaustive and it would not be appropriate to cumulate these into an estimate of the total resources used.

15. As noted in a previous paper to the committee, a key feature of Scottish transport statistics is the use by a relatively small statistics branch of information managed and compiled by other organisations.


April 2002