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Paper 16th September 2003 - TTSAC(03)2


1. The purpose of this paper is to inform members of the Committee about the Department for Transport's key developments in transport statistics for 2004.

2. If you require any further information about any of the points covered in this paper, you are invited to contact:

Lucy de Jong

direct line: 020 7944 4129

e-mail: lucy.de_jong@dft.gsi.gov.uk

Or, if they prefer, members of the Committee are welcome to raise at the meeting any points which they feel are likely to be of interest to others.

3. Major drivers underlying the development of transport statistics are:

  • DfT's PSA targets,

- to reduce road casualties, in particular in disadvantaged communities;

- to reduce congestion,

- to improve use and quality of rail and local public transport

  • overarching strategies for sustainable transport: DfT's Ten Year Transport Plan
  • the development and monitoring of Regional Transport Strategies
  • supporting Local authorities in monitoring Local Transport Plans;
  • strategies on social exclusion and neighbourhood renewal, in particular in support of the recommendations in the Social Exclusion Unit report on transport and social exclusion, Making the Connections (February 2003);
  • National Statistics standards, particularly those on quality and efficiency;
  • International considerations, particularly EU legislative requirements.
  • responding to and exploiting developments in data sources and IT.

Major development tasks

4. Road accident statistics

We will be implementing the recommendations of the Quality Review of Road Accident Statistics, with changes in data collection from January 2005. Key developments will include:

  • working with the police on a new approach for collecting information about road accidents and casualties needed for police operational purposes and for statistics capable of being implemented on hand-held, digital devices;
  • better arrangements for data collection about accidents reported at police stations when a police officer has not attended the scene; and
  • development of a consistent approach to the collection of information about contributory factors to accidents.

5. Roads and road traffic

5.1 Work will start in 2003 on a Quality Review of Road Traffic Statistics and on major quality improvements to the methods for monitoring road conditions.

5.2 The National Road Maintenance Condition Survey (NRMCS) in England and Wales currently includes visual surveys of defects at sample sites on local roads. The DfT is currently investigating the feasibility of surveying all local roads using more objective machine based surveys similar to those used by the Highways Agency on trunk roads. By 2005, we hope that machine based surveys will be rolled out across all road classes throughout the country. They would provide consistent and comparable information for monitoring road conditions at both national and local level. Local authorities would use the results to identify sites that need further detailed investigation. There is a good deal of development work to be done between now and then, however.

5.3 The Ten-Year Plan for Transport set targets to reduce congestion on inter-urban roads and in large urban areas in England to below 2000 levels by 2010. Current measures do not reflect key aspects of congestion such as journey reliability and the amount of time spent travelling below a certain speed. DfT is examining whether it can improve measures of congestion, and how better to identify "hotspots" of acute congestion so that they can be tackled.

6. Bus and coach statistics

DfT will be implementing recommendations of the NS Quality Review of Bus and Coach Statistics. The Quality Review commenced in April 2002 and a report was published in June 2003. Work to follow up the recommendations in the review has already commenced. Specific plans include a detailed review of the methodology underpinning the bus fares index, and a study of the impact of the growing use of multi-travel tickets on fares and on the accuracy of the bus patronage figures.

7. Rail statistics

7.1 A new EU Rail Regulation has been adopted and will be implemented from January 2004. This will require the UK to provide rail statistics to enable the Commission to develop and monitor a common transport policy. Most of the statistics requested are already collected by the Department for Transport, the Strategic Rail Authority and the Rail Safety and Standards Board. Some of the later series will require more detail than hitherto, e.g, the NUTS ones - which will be of interest to Scotland.

7.2 DfT will pursue the National Statistics badging with the Strategic Rail Authority during 2003.

8. Road freight

8.1 New surveys

8.1.1 DfT is undertaking two new surveys that will provide estimates of van activity, to complement the existing HGV surveys. The first is a stand-alone survey of non-company owned vans. Results are scheduled for publication in December 2003. The second survey, started in April 2003, covers vehicles owned by companies. Results from both surveys will be used to publish estimates of overall van activity in the summer of 2004.

8.1.2 The department has also undertaken a new survey that will provide estimates of the activity of foreign-registered lorries in the UK. These will be used to inform the development of the Lorry Road User Charging scheme and meet other policy needs, including provision up-to-date estimates of cabotage. A report on the findings will be published in September 2003. Whilst the survey was a one-off initially but might be repeated in future years.

8.2 Existing Surveys

8.2.1 The Quality Review of Road Freight Statistics has explored additional data needs. The final report has now being completed and submitted to ONS. Work to implement recommendations of the review is being pursued.

8.2.2 The Review concluded that the surveys broadly met user requirements and that the majority of survey respondents had no difficulties in supply the data. A number of additional user requirements were identified, some of them to meet Eurostat obligations.

8.2.3 Key outcomes of the Review were:

  • the introduction of a new survey of HGVs registered in Northern Ireland to improve the statistics about road freight activity in Ireland; and
  • the development of a new IT system to collate and analyse road freight data, enabling the department to better meet user requirements. The new system will incorporate updates to the geographic coding, at a finer level of detail, of origins and destinations in the Continuing Survey of Road Goods Transport (CSRGT) and International Road Haulage Survey (IRHS).

8.2.4 DfT is also exploring the potential of Intelligent Transport Systems to supplement and eventually replace the information currently collected about HGVs and vans by means of paper-based surveys. A research project is being commissioned to explore the availability and coverage of data relating to goods vehicles, the initial results of which should be available early in 2004.

9. Transport indicators

Re-styled Transport Trends published in January 2003, which includes main Ten-Year Plan indicators and government's sustainable development indicators most relevant to transport. DfT will be updating it electronically in December 2003, and are also looking at the development of a new pocket version largely incorporating a sub-set of the series appearing in Transport Trends.

10. Public attitudes surveys

The Department has continued to make use of the ONS Omnibus survey to address arising needs for ad-hoc data on public attitudes, including modules on walking and cycling, and on national transport issues to support evidence gathering for the communications strategy. A review of user needs will take place during Autumn 2003, in order to determine whether the Department should pursue the possibility of running its own attitudes survey rather than relying on the ONS Omnibus survey and the British Social Attitudes survey.

11. National travel survey

11.1 Following the quality review, the sample size was approximately trebled from the beginning of 2002. This means that key national trends will be produced for single years rather than averaged over 3 years as at present. There will also be improved regional data and greater geographical detail will be possible by aggregating over 2 or more years, for example to provide data for urban authorities and large counties. From 2003 Local Authorities have been able to fund boosted samples in their areas. Two boosts are being carried out in Essex in 2003 but none are planned for 2004.

11.2 An experiment in the second half of 2002 to test the effect of incentive payments to respondents demonstrated that incentives increased response rates, especially among some groups which were poorly represented. As a result, a payment of £5 has been made from the beginning of 2003 to all members of households that fully complete the diaries and questionnaires.

11.3 Weighting the survey results, as recommended in the Quality Review, is not straightforward and has been delayed by work on the new expanded survey. A contract to provide expert advice to DfT is being set up and the plan is to produce the first weighted results of the 2002 survey in 2004.

12. Statistics for English regions and Local Authorities

12.1 DfT's publication Regional Transport Statistics will be expanded to include more data and some analysis of regional differences. We will also be seeking to extend the data available at local authority level, subject to quality constraints.

12.2 English Local Authorities are now reporting annually on progress against indicators and targets in their Local Transport Plans. DfT has specified a core set of indicators, reflecting national PSA targets and key targets in the Ten Year Plan which are applicable at local scale. All local authorities would report on these. DfT statisticians will be continuing to develop guidance on how these indicators should be compiled on a consistent and cost-effective basis, as well as providing further guidance on a menu of indicators, which are in common use in Local Transport Plans.

13. Neighbourhood Statistics

Data on car availability and travel to work (from the Census) will be added to NeSS. We will also be adding administrative data on cars and availability of public transport and data on road safety. Following the Social Exclusion Unit report on transport and social exclusion, local transport authorities are being asked to carry out accessibility audits to measure how effective local transport is in enabling access to services. The audits should provide data for small areas individually. DfT will be working with local authorities in England to develop meaningful indicators and methods for collecting data .

14. Maritime statistics

14.1 Analysis and dissemination system for maritime freight statistics

14.1.1 A new system for collecting detailed port traffic statistics was introduced in 2000 in order to meet the requirements of an EU Maritime Statistics Directive (Council Directive 95/64/EC on statistics in respect of the carriage goods and passengers by sea). Extensive checks are being planned in association with other EU member states to improve the quality of information, now that the system has been running some time, including the analysis of "mirror image" port to port traffic flows reported separately by member states.

14.1.2 The new system contains much more detail on routes and vessel characteristics, and there is a commitment in the policy paper Modern Ports to make the best use of it. The Department has consulted port associations, shipping lines and agents, maritime consultants about making this data widely available for detailed analysis, to maximise its usefulness to the maritime industry. Academics are also to be invited to use the database for research. Data collected under the Directive is now available from Eurostat on a CD-Rom.

14.2 Develop new information on the number of UK seafarers and trainees

Better information on seafarers and trainees is needed for policy, to measure the effect of the tonnage tax on the employment of UK seafarers and to monitor the supply of UK seafarers to ensure a viable UK maritime related industry in the future, both at sea and on-shore. A review of information requirements has been carried out. As a result, new information collection arrangements are being put in place to estimate the number of UK officer trainees, and to obtain more information about UK seafarers from an enhanced Chamber of Shipping manpower survey. A study on the employment of UK ex-seafarers in shore based jobs is nearing completion.

14.3 Port manpower and infrastructure statistics.

There is a commitment in the policy paper Modern Ports to benchmarking port performance. The Transport Select Committee on Ports has raised concerns about the inadequacy of port statistics and in particular the lack of manpower data to judge the safety of the industry and to establish the economic importance of ports to local communities. Ports associations have been consulted about improving information in this area and a ports manpower working group has been set up to identify information requirements and then collect information on employment at ports. Port associations do not, however, support the collection of information on port infrastructure and service indicators and this aspect of port data collection is to be reviewed in the light of this.

14.4 Review of inland waters freight traffic

A Quality Review of the UK Domestic Waterborne Freight survey has been completed and a review report has been submitted to ONS for approval. The review followed on from work of the Freight Study Group set up by the Department to examine the scope for increasing freight traffic on inland waterways. The Group recommended a review of the utility of the available inland waters freight traffic information, the presentation of information, and the methodology and definitions used.

15. Aviation

Aviation Statistics Regulation: Member States have been providing data to Eurostat on a voluntary basis for a number of years. For UK, data are provided by the Civil Aviation Authority. It had not previously been possible to formalise the regulation because of the UK/Spain Gibraltar dispute. However, agreement has now been reached on how to proceed and the Regulation has been formally adopted with respect to data commencing from year 2003.

16. Electronic dissemination

As a matter of policy, NS publications are available free of charge on the Internet. DfT is also improving the style and ease-of-use of Internet publication, while Transport statistics website has recently been relaunched, with greatly enhanced search facilities. A dedicated GIS service is to be set up to improve DfT's capacity for geographical presentation of data.