Survey shows transport statistics continue to rise

Total passenger transport has increased by 58 per cent since 1976, while the proportion of households with at least one car has increased from 54 per cent to 72 per cent, according to the 25th edition of the UK Government's 'Transport Statistics Great Britain' for 1998. The first edition of the survey, covering the period 1964 to 1974, appeared in March 1976.

The latest Transport Statistics also show that those with more than one car increased from 10 per cent to 28 per cent over the last 25 years. The number of bus and coach kilometres run by bus and coach operators has increased by 22 per cent. The number of journeys on national railways increased by 23 per cent. The amount of domestic freight moved by all modes has increased by 65 per cent. The proportion of this moved by road has increased from 60 per cent to 65 per cent.

Over the same period the number of vehicles on Britain’s roads has increased by 79 per cent. There has also been a very large increase in the length of motorways – by 88 per cent to 3,303 kilometres in 1998. There has been an even bigger increase in the amount of traffic, which has increased by 96 per cent.

In contrast, the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads has fallen by 54 per cent.

The publication also shows that the average British resident now travels more than 6,700 miles a year, an increase of a quarter since 1985/86. Over this period, the greatest increases have been recorded in travel by car (up 39 per cent), and taxi/minicab (up 85 per cent), with car and van usage accounting for 82 per cent of the total mileage travelled. The greatest declines have been in motorcycle mileage (down 42 per cent) and bus use outside London (down 24 per cent), although bus use in London has increased by 31 per cent over this period.

Passenger journeys on national railways increased by five per cent from 846 million in 1997/98 to 892 million in 1998/9. There were 4.34 billion passenger journeys in 1997/98, the most recent year for which complete survey data for Great Britain are available. This has remained fairly stable in recent years following a long term decline, with bus patronage having fallen to half that of 1970.

The figures highlight the task facing the UK Government as it sets out to implement its integrated transport policy contained in its White Paper, ‘A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone’. “These figures show that the Government has got to take a fundamental look at the way alternative modes of transport are provided, in terms of frequency, reliability, service quality and most importantly, cost,” Richard Pout, London Co-ordinator of transport consultancy think tank Transport 2000 told edie. “The perception is of a poor and expensive service – when in many instances public transport is effective and reliable for many journeys, and reasonably priced.”

The statistics show that cars are becoming more economical, with petrol consumption rising to about 33mpg in 1996/98. Cars under two years old averaged 34mpg, compared with 32mpg for those over four years old. In contrast, diesel cars averaged 45mpg.

Most forms of pollutant emissions from transport continue to fall and have been in steady decline over the last decade. However, total energy consumption by transport continues to rise, and by the end of 1998 amounted to 54 million tonnes of oil equivalent, or 3 per cent of all UK energy use.

The number of vehicles taxed for use on Britain’s roads had reached 27.5 million by the end of 1998, of which over 23 million were motor cars. Meanwhile, the proportion of households without access to a car in Great Britain has declined from 35 per cent in 1988 to 28 per cent in 1998. Over this period, the proportion with one car has remained almost constant, at about 45 per cent, but 28 per cent of households now have two or more cars compared to 20 per cent ten years ago.

The number of people holding full driving licences has continued to increase, reaching 31 million in Great Britain in 1996/98, (representing nearly 70 per cent of those aged 17 and over).

Road freight continues to account for the vast majority of goods transported in the UK. In 1998 road freight accounted for four-fifths of goods lifted (tonnes) and two-thirds of goods moved (tonne-kilometres). A record 151.9 tonne-kilometres of goods was moved by road in 1998, an increase of two per cent since 1997; goods lifted fell by one per cent over the same period. The average length of haul rose from 91km in 1997 to 93km in 1998. Rail freight tonne-kilometres increased from 16.9 billion in 1997/98 to 17.4 billion in 1998/99, a rise of three per cent.

Air cargo handled at airports reached two million tonnes in 1998, an increase of seven per cent since 1997.

A record 548 million tonnes of cargo was handled at British ports in 1998. Port traffic increased by nine million tonnes against 1997, an increase of two per cent; and was 15 per cent higher than a decade ago.

Between 1988 and 1998, the number of powered vehicles travelling to mainland Europe, on roll-on/roll-off ferry services or through the Channel Tunnel, more than doubled. In 1998, 80 per cent of powered goods vehicles travelling to Europe disembarked in France.

Overall, air transport activity continued to increase in 1998. Compared with 1997, aircraft movements were seven per cent higher, passenger numbers nine per cent higher, and cargo handled seven per cent higher.

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