Transport and Travel in Scotland 2015 - 27 September 2016

4. Personal Travel

This section contains analysis and headline findings from the Scottish Household Survey questions relating to personal travel (including the Travel Diary part of the survey).

Who Travels?

More than three quarters (77%) of adults travelled the previous day. The number of people travelling the previous day has remained the same as in 2014. Men were more likely to have travelled than women; 78 percent of men had travelled the previous day compared to 75 percent of women. Older people were less likely to have travelled the previous day. Only 51 percent of those aged 80 and over had travelled the previous day and 68 percent of those aged 70 to 79. [Table TD1]

Why Do People Travel?

Most journeys were for the purpose of commuting (22%) or shopping (24%). [Table TD3]

There has been little change in journey purpose over the past year.

When asked about their main place of work, fourteen percent of employed Scottish adults worked mainly from home in 2015 – an increase on the previous year and the highest percentage recorded by the survey.

Travel to Work

How do people travel to work?

Two thirds of people not working from home usually travelled to work by car / van, either as a driver (60%) or passenger (6%). Fourteen percent of people usually travelled to work on foot. Eleven percent of people usually travelled to work by bus and four percent travelled by rail. Just more than two (2.2) percent of people usually travelled to work by bicycle in 2015. [Table SUM1]

31.4% of people usually travelled to work by public or active travel in 2015.

14.1% of employed adults worked from home in 2015.

Who travels to work by which mode?

Men were more likely to drive to work than women. Women were more likely than men to walk or catch the bus to work. Men were also more likely to cycle to work. The proportion of people who usually walked or travelled by bus to work was lower in households with higher levels of income. Younger people (aged 16 to 29) were least likely to drive to work. [Table 7]

Why do people choose these modes?

Of those who drive to work, 48% said that they could use public transport, but that the main reasons for not using public transport were that it takes too long (45% of respondents), that it is inconvenient (17% of respondents) and that there is no direct route (21% of respondents). These questions are asked biennially so were not updated in 2015 – data refer to 2014. [Table 13 and Table 14]

Thirteen percent of people car shared in 2015, a similar proportion to 2013.  Of these, the majority (92%) arranged it between themselves, with only 7% organising it through their employer (the remaining 1% used some other means for arranging car sharing, including use of car clubs). The main reasons given for not car sharing were that nobody from work lives nearby (64%) and the lack of regular work hours (22%). [Table 11]

Relatively few people have changed the mode of transport they used to get to work compared to the previous year.  Based on data for the last 5 years, 97 percent of car commuters hadn’t changed modes in the previous year.  For other modes, the biggest shift was to driving; 9.3 percent of those who cycled and 5.4 percent of those who walked a year ago now reported driving. [Table 10]

The main reasons given by respondents for changing their usual mode of travel to work in 2015 were changing job (35%) and moving house (25%). [Table 10a] 

Of those who didn’t cycle to work in 2014, the main reason given for not doing so was ‘it’s too far’ (33%), followed by ‘too many cars on the road’ (18%).  ‘The weather’ and ‘traffic travels too fast’ accounted for 16 percent and 12 percent respectively.These questions are asked biennially so were not updated in 2015 – data refer to 2014. [Table 26]

Travel to School

How do children travel?

Around half of children (49%) walked to school, twenty one percent travelled by bus and around a quarter (26%) travelled by car. [Table SUM1]

There was variation in mode of travel by age, with 54 percent of those aged 4 to 11 walking to school compared to 41 percent of those aged 12 to 18. Older children were more likely to catch a bus than younger children; 26 percent compared to 8 percent.   [Table 15]

These figures are similar to those reported in the Sustrans Hands Up Scotland publication:

Why do parents choose these modes?

90 percent walked because the school is close and 41 percent who travelled by car did so because it was the most convenient mode.  40 percent of those who used a school bus and 40 percent of those who used a service bus did so because it was the “most convenient”. The second most popular reason for those who travel by car was that it was the safest method (20%), while for school bus the second most popular reason was that it was the safest method and for service bus the second most common reason was “too far to walk”.[Table 16]

The main reason for primary children not using public transport was that ‘they are too young to travel on own’ (55%).  For secondary-aged children the main reasons were that  parents ‘prefer to use the car’ (49%) and that ‘it is inconvenient’ (27%). These questions are asked biennially so were not updated in 2015 – data refers to 2014.  [Table 17]

When Do People Travel?

As could be expected, more journeys were reported on weekdays (14-15% of journeys on each day) than at weekends, with most journeys reported on Fridays (16%) and least travel reported on Sundays (12% of journeys). [Table TD8]

Peak travel on a weekday was between 7 am and 9:30 am (20% of weekday journeys started between these times).  The afternoon peak is more spread out with 18 percent of journeys starting between 2 pm and 4:30 pm and another 15 percent starting between 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm. A quarter (25%) of weekend journeys started between 12 noon and 2 pm, with over 27 percent of weekend journeys starting before noon and 48% of journeys staring after 2pm. 

There has been little change in these travel patterns reported in the survey over recent years. [Table TD7 and Table TD8]


Most journeys were short:  Sixty four percent of journeys lasted up to 20 minutes.  thirty-one percent lasted between five and ten minutes.  Twenty one percent of journeys lasted more than half an hour (an increase on the previous year) and around seven percent lasted more than an hour. [Table TD6]

Perceptions of Congestion

The main reason suggested for delays was ‘volume of traffic’ (76%), down from 82 percent in 2014.  Delays as a result of road maintenance have risen from 19 percent to 28 percent in 2015. [Table TD10a]

12.5% of car driver journeys were perceived to be delayed due to congestion in 2015, an increase on 2014 (11.7%). This provides an update to National Indicator 4, which will show performance worsening. Ten percent of bus journeys were delayed due to congestion, down slightly from 11 percent in 2014. [Table TD11]

12.5% of driver journeys were perceived to be delayed due to congestion in 2015, an increase on 2014 (11.7%).

Around three quarters (77.8%) of all journeys to work were perceived to not be affected by congestion. Thirty nine percent of people who drive to work reported experiencing congestion at least once a week.  The proportion was 43 percent for buses. [Table 8]

Over a quarter (26%) of drivers allowed no extra time for congestion on their journey to work and over a third (35%) allow ten minutes or less.  The proportions were similar for bus passengers where 30 percent allowed no extra time and 30 percent allowed ten minutes or less. [Table 8]

Twenty two percent of driver commuting journeys and 17 percent of driver business journeys were delayed by congestion.  .  As would be expected, the morning and evening peak periods on weekdays saw the highest proportion of driver journeys delayed by congestion; 25 percent for journeys starting between 7 and 8 am and 28 percent between 5 and 6 pm. [Table TD12]

How Do People Travel?

The car remained the most popular mode of transport: 51 percent of journeys were made as a car driver, an increase from 48 percent in 2014.  A further 13 percent were made as a passenger - the same as in 2014. [Table TD2 and Table SUM1]

The second most used mode of transport was walking at 22 percent, a decrease from 25 percent in 2014. [Table TD2 and Table SUM1]

There has been little change in share for other modes of transport with ten percent of journeys made by bus, 2 percent by rail and just more than one (1.2) percent by bicycle in 2015. [Table TD2]

Similar estimates of mode share were seen when looking at journey stages. [Table TD2b]

Use of multiple modes / Park and Ride

Three percent of journeys reported in the Travel Diary in 2015 were multi-stage.  Some of the increase in recent years (from around 1 percent previously) may be as a result of changes in the structure of the travel diary in 2011/12 to improve the quality of the data (See appendix A). [Table TD2c]

Two thirds of multi-stage journeys reported consisted of two stages. [Table TD2c]

Multi-stage journeys are highest for ferry and air travel with an average of just more than 2 stages for every journey with one of these mode used as the main mode.  For rail the average is 1.4 stages per journey and for all other modes the average number of stages per journey is just more than one. [Table TD2c]

The proportion of people reporting having made park and ride journeys in the last month fell between 2014 and 2015 from 17 percent to 16 percent. The most popular locations used were car park at bus and train stations or airports (31%) and specially designated park and ride facility (30%). Those that did not use a dedicated park and ride facility cited ‘no facility available’ (83%) and ‘journey would take longer’ (10%) as reasons. [Table 21]

Just more than half (54%) used a train for their onward journey, 29 percent used a bus and 14 percent walked. [Table 22]

Where Do People Travel?

Twenty two percent of all journeys in Scotland either start or end in Edinburgh or Glasgow.  Most journeys started and finished in the same local authority.  The proportion was highest in Highlands/Islands and Grampian (Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray), where 95% of journeys started and finished in the same area and lowest in Glasgow and South Lanarkshire (70%).[Table TD13 + TD14]

How Far Do Peaople Travel?

Twenty three percent of journeys were under 1 km and half were under 3 km. People reported slightly fewer very short journeys in 2015 (22.7% under 1 km) compared to 2014 (25.4% under 1 km) which may be a result of the decrease in walking journeys reported in the survey. [Table TD4] The median journey length was 3.3 km and the mean journey length was 8.9 km. [Table TD5]

Walking journeys had the shortest average (mean) length (1.0 km) then bicycle (4.7 km).  The average car driver journey was 10.8 km, bus journeys averaged 9.0 km and rail journeys had the longest average length at 20.6 km. [Table TD5a]

Two thirds (65%) of journeys under 1 km were made on foot, however car journeys accounted for most of the remainder (26%). [Table TD2a]