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On the Move; Car, rail and bus travel trends in Scotland

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Transport mode
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Transport policies
Deployment planning/Financing/Market roll-out,
Societal/Economic issues



The project aims to asses:

  • How much are we travelling as a nation?
  • Who is travelling?
  • What changes have there been over time?
  • What might happen in the future? 


Funding Source
Transport Scotland


  • At the aggregate level, NTS data for 2008/10 shows that 49% of the distance travelled by Scottish residents is as a car driver, and another 27% as a car passenger. By contrast, bus represents 8% of mileage and rail represents 6%. Because cars are used much more than bus and rail, relatively small percentage changes in car use can translate into large percentage changes in bus and rail use.
  • The National Travel Survey (NTS) and Scottish Household Survey (SHS) both show essentially flat trends in car use per person. For example, the NTS shows that average annual car driving mileage per person was 3,427 (1995/9 data) and 3,525 (2008/10 data), a difference of +3% which due to the small NTS sample size in Scotland is not statistically significant.
  • Licence-holding has fallen for young people (particularly men), and increased for older people (especially women). The net effect has been a rapid increase in the average age of drivers, from 44 to 47 years old (1995/9 to 2008/10). More than half of people aged 17–29 who do not drive are either learning to drive or deterred from doing so by the costs of driving. 
  • As in the rest of Great Britain, there have been divergent trends in use of company cars and personal cars, with company car use trending down (a 21% fall in Scotland between 1995/9 and 2008/10) whilst personal car use has trended upwards (by 7%). The sharpest fall in company car ownership has been amongst professionals; their rail use tripled over the 1995/9 to 2008/10 time period, whilst their use of both personal and company cars decreased.
  • Bus use per person has grown slowly. This rate of growth is statistically insignificant but a sustained modest upward trend (up to the 2008 recession) also appears in bus ticket-sales data.

Other results

The results suggest that a rise in the number of people making limited use of the Internet is linked to an increase in car driving, but that growth in time spent online is negatively linked to driving. We cannot be sure that these associations are causal (owing to the data and methods used), but they are suggestive. They make it clear that the relationship between travel and online activity is more complex than one simply substituting for the other.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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