4 Research Approach
4.1 The research materials consisted of a:
- self-completion survey for users, bespoke to each provider. In order to ensure as high a rate of survey returns as possible, this was supplemented by a consistent web-based survey and the offer of a telephone call-back service for questionnaire completion;
- topic guide for CT case study management; and
- topic guide for CT case study volunteers.
4.2 Following feedback from providers, a Group Leader Survey was added to the scope.
4.3 The self-completion surveys were issued to case study providers in early December 2014, with a return deadline of the end of the calendar year. The case study providers issued the surveys to their users through a combination of postal mail-outs to those on their database and driver hand-out.
4.4 A key challenge in carrying out this study was that the primary research was focussed on a diverse user group, some of whom were likely to have complex physical and emotional needs, people with learning disabilities or the very elderly for example. It was recognised that this could provide an element of bias in the response, whereby the survey would most likely be completed by those who were able. In order to address this, we worked with the case study providers to identify vulnerable individuals (where possible) and ensure that the survey was issued to a nominated responsible adult. As noted above, we also offered telephone and web-based response options to provide respondents with as a wide a range of response choices as possible. Whilst there is likely to remain an element of bias in the sample, all reasonable efforts were taken to mitigate this.
4.5 The only exception to the predominantly self-completion approach was the BSCTC. The organisation expressed concern that their users were often more vulnerable members of society and would have difficulty completing the surveys independently. In order to address this concern, we employed a professional interviewer to visit the provider. In addition, the provider offered us phone numbers of users whom they noted would have an interest in completing the survey. By combining these two approaches, we successfully secured a small number of interviews to inform the research.
4.6 In total, we received 212 completed questionnaires. The table below shows how this is split between the five case study providers:
Table 4.1: Case Study User Survey Return Rates
Case Study Provider
Urban / Rural Classification
No. of Surveys Returned
% Total Across All Case Studies
Community Transport Glasgow (SPT)
Large Urban Areas
Order of Malta Dial-a-Journey (TACTRAN)
Other Urban Areas
Annandale Transport Initiative (SWestrans)
Remote Small Towns
Buchan Dial-a-Community Bus (NESTRANS)
Badenoch & Strathspey Community Transport Company (HITRANS)
4.7 In total, 1,213 questionnaires were issued, with a response rate of 212, or 17%. This is in excess of the typical 10% response rate for self-completion surveys. The response rate allowed for a broad understanding of the benefits of the CT sector although, at the same time, it is important to recognise the diversity of this sector, meaning the results cannot be interpreted as a representative national sample.
Understanding the Sample at a Case Study Level
4.8 It is also important to be aware that not all user survey questions were answered by all respondents detailed in Table 4.1 and that, for each question, there were a number of 'not applicable' responses. Therefore, when presenting the user survey results, we distinguish between 'all respondents' (i.e. the numbers detailed in Table 4.1), 'responses' (the total number who answered each question including 'not applicable' responses) and 'applicable responses' (excludes 'not applicable' responses).
4.9 In order to adequately interpret the results from the user surveys, it was important to understand the profile of the respondents and the range and level of use of different services by those respondents. It should be noted that the respondents to the user survey were not users of the full range of CT services at each provider. The following sections detail for each case study, the make-up of the user survey sample in terms of gender, age, car availability, mobility/disability status, level of isolation and usage of CT services. While every effort was made to obtain a representative sample of users at each site, the very nature of user surveys poses an obstacle for some of the most vulnerable users. In addition, it is worth noting that response rates at certain sites were relatively poor and the results should thus be treated with caution.
Community Transport Glasgow (CTG)
4.10 User profile of sample:
- A sample of 42 users responded to the survey.
- 80% of the respondents were female.
- Over a third of respondents were under 60 years old - with a third of these having a longstanding illness, disability or mobility issue which affects their ability to travel.
- Overall, almost 75% of the respondents reported to having a longstanding illness, disability or mobility issue which affects their ability to travel.
- 15% of respondents could drive and 24% had access to a vehicle in their household.
- Almost 75% of respondents are concessionary pass holders and 25% are blue badge holders.
- A third of the respondents live on their own.
4.11 This presents a sample with a mixed age profile although elderly and mobility impaired passengers still dominate. There are four times as many female respondents as male. There is limited access to private transport in the household (24%) with about 33% of respondents living alone.
4.12 Service use:
- 83% of respondents use only one CTG service with only 17% using more than one different service. 75% of respondents have used CTG services for over a year.
- The group transport services were the most used, with 20 respondents having used this service and over half of these on at least a monthly basis.
Order of Malta Dial-a-Journey (OOM)
4.13 User Profile of Sample
- A sample of 82 users responded to the survey.
- 63% of the respondents were female.
- A quarter of respondents were under 60 years old - with over two thirds of these having a longstanding illness, disability or mobility issue which affects their ability to travel.
- Overall, 90% of the respondents are reported to have a longstanding illness, disability or mobility issue which affects their ability to travel.
- 14% of respondents could drive and 36% had access to a vehicle in their household.
- Two thirds of respondents are concessionary pass holders and 60% are blue badge holders.
- Over half of the respondents live on their own.
4.14 This presents a good sized sample with mainly elderly, disabled and mobility impaired passengers. While females are the majority there is a good representation of males. There is access to private transport in the household for over a third of respondents but those without access to private vehicles are the most vulnerable and living in isolation.
4.15 Service Use:
- 25% of respondents are users of more than one OOM service with 90% having used OOM services for over a year.
- The door-to-door transport service was by far the most used with over 34 respondents using this on a weekly basis, 10 on a monthly basis and a further 22 less than once a month.
Buchan Dial-a-Community Bus (BDACB)
4.16 User Profile of Sample:
- A sample of 40 users responded to the survey.
- 90% of the respondents were female.
- Despite operating several services aimed at younger passengers, only three respondents were under 60 years old - two of which have a longstanding illness, disability or mobility issue which affects their ability to travel.
- Overall, more than half the respondents reported to having a longstanding illness, disability or mobility issue which affects their ability to travel.
- 12% of the respondents could drive, but almost 30% had access to a vehicle in their household.
- Over 90% of respondents were concessionary pass holders and a quarter were blue badge holders.
- More than half the respondents live on their own.
4.17 This presents a sample of elderly and mobility impaired, mainly female, passengers with little or no access to private transport and a majority who live in isolation.
4.18 Service Use:
- All but 4 respondents were users of only one BDACB service, with almost 75% having used the service for over a year.
- The shopping service was by far the most used with 16 respondents using this on a weekly basis and a further 7 on a monthly basis.
Annandale Transport Initiative (ATI)
4.19 User Profile of Sample:
- A sample of 35 users responded to the survey.
- 70% of the respondents were female.
- Only four respondents were under 60 years old - three of which have a longstanding illness, disability or mobility issue which affects their ability to travel.
- Overall, 40% of the respondents reported to have a longstanding illness, disability or mobility issue which affects their ability to travel.
- 40% of respondents could drive and 75% had access to a vehicle in their household.
- Almost 90% of respondents are concessionary pass holders and 40% are blue badge holders.
- Just over a quarter of the respondents live on their own.
4.20 This presents a sample of elderly and mobility impaired passengers. The majority are female although males make up 30% of respondents. There is considerable access to private transport in the household (75%) with a relatively lower proportion of respondents living alone (27%) compared to more than 50% in each of Badenoch & Strathspey and Buchan.
4.21 Service Use:
- Half of all respondents use more than one ATI service.
- Over 75% of respondents have used the service for over a year.
- The group travel service was the most used with over two thirds of respondents having used this service.
- The day trip service has been used by 40% of respondents.
Badenoch & Strathspey Community Transport Company (BSCTC)
4.22 User Profile of Sample
- A small sample of only 13 users responded to the survey.
- Nine respondents were female and four male.
- Only two respondents were under 60 years old and both of these had a longstanding illness, disability or mobility issue which affects their ability to travel.
- While three respondents could still drive, only two of these had access to a car in their household.
- All respondents were concessionary pass holders and almost half were blue badge holders.
- More than half the respondents live on their own.
4.23 This presents a sample of elderly and mobility impaired passengers with little or no access to private transport and a majority who live in isolation.
4.24 Service Use:
- All respondents were users of multiple BSCTC services with most using 3 or 4 different services with varying frequency.
- 11 of the 13 respondents used at least two of BSCTC services on a weekly basis. The remaining 2 respondents being monthly users.
4.25 The summaries described above of user survey respondent profiles at each case study site display subtle variations in terms of age, physical health/mobility, household access to private cars and isolation. A wide range of service types used by respondents is also evident across the sites.
4.26 Whist this needs to be taken into account if making direct comparisons between sites, it is important to note that the mix of services taken as a whole reflects the diverse nature of the community transport sector in terms of services provided. At the nationwide level the most common purposes for which community transport is used are social outings followed by shopping and access to health services (CTA, 2012) - this is replicated by the respondents to the user surveys in this study.
4.27 Furthermore, although there are variations in user profile across the sites, overall the sample closely mirrors the CT user profile as identified in the CTA State of Sector survey 2012 where more than 80% of passengers of CT were found to be older and/or disabled people - the user survey sample in this study consists of 79% of respondents being over 60 with a further 13% under 60 but with disability or long standing health problem. As a result there is reasonable confidence that the overall results presented in this report provide a good representation of the CT sector in Scotland as a whole.
Group Leader Survey
4.28 When developing the research approach, it became clear from our consultations with providers that 'Group Leaders' (ie those who use CT for group activities, youth groups for example), had a valuable contribution to make to the research in terms of how CT is used to support group activities. To this end, we designed a short group leader survey which was issued to each provider. The survey collected information on what group-based activities CT is used to facilitate, the benefits of the service to users and the cost of the service. This was more relevant to some providers than others and, as it was out with the scope of the original brief, we did not set target sample rates. The evidence collected was largely aimed to provide further qualitative evidence on the benefits of CT. In total, we received 45 completed Group Lead surveys.
CT Case Study Focus Groups / Mini-Interviews
4.29 The second part of our research approach was to meet with each case study provider on a one-to-one basis. The aim of this exercise was to obtain additional in-depth information to underpin the findings from the surveys. At each case study provider, we met with one or more senior members of staff with a view to understanding the structure of the organisation; the services it provides; staffing; clients; funding; the role of volunteers; and the perceived benefits of the service they offer. We also enquired as to the availability of any data which could inform this study.
4.30 We then held a series of focus groups or one-to-one interviews (depending on the preference of the case study provider) with staff and volunteers. The purpose of these sessions was to understand the benefits of the services offered; the wider societal benefits of the service; and the benefits accruing to staff and volunteers.
Additional Telephone Consultations
4.31 A further three telephone only consultations were carried out to capture some of the wider services not offered by our core case studies. These consultations were with the operators only (ie they did not include staff and volunteers) and included:
- Wheels-to-Work provider - Coalfields Community Transport (although note that CCF has now ceased providing this service due to funding reductions);
- Island Provider -Tagsa Uibhist
- Access to medical appointments - RSVP East Renfrewshire.
Local Authority Telephone Consultations
4.32 In addition to the consultation with CT groups, a number of telephone interviews were undertaken with representatives from local authorities/funding providers. The primary aim of these discussions was to gain an understanding of the benefits of the services provided from the local authority/funding body's perspective. Each case study was asked to provide the contact details of a suitable representative, all of whom were subsequently contacted, with interviews undertaken with Aberdeenshire Council, The Highland Council, Dumfries & Galloway Council, East Ayrshire Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
4.33 The following two chapters set out the economic, social and health impacts of CT identified through the primary research.