University of York - 2006 Travel Survey, Executive Summary

1 Introduction

York is a congested City. As one of the principal employers, The University is a a major contributor to the volume of traffic particularly in the south east corner of the City. This has been recognised for some time and to control the impact of additional traffic associated with the growth of The University, in 1999 the City of York Council (CYC) imposed a cap on the number of car parking places allowed on campus. This resulted in The University introducing a sustainable travel plan with the objective of promoting forms of travel other than the car. This travel plan has been a success and between 2001 to 2004 although there has been a 16% growth in staff and student numbers, this has resulted in only a 0.5% increase in peak hour car movements. The University's plans for further growth onto Heslington East, and the targets that CYC has set on permissible University traffic growth, will require a further step change in travel behaviour if they are to be achieved. This change in travel behaviour will be encouraged through a revised sustainable travel plan. To develop this revised plan it is necessary to understand the current travel characteristics of The University community and the grounds under which these might change. The main purpose of the 2006 travel survey was to provide this information. It was also used as an opportunity to explain the travel constraints under which The University operates, and why we need to encourage more sustainable travel behaviour.

2 The Travel Survey

2.1 Travel Behaviour Data Collection

To provide a comprehensive database on current travel behaviour the following information was requested:

  • Travel mode
  • Distance travelled and time taken
  • Departure and arrival destinations
  • The reason for using a car and why other forms of transport are not chosen
  • The number of car users who car share or are willing to do so
  • The awareness of existing sustainable travel initiatives
  • Travel modes and travel times by post code
  • Arrival and departure times for all car users
  • The factors affecting an individual's daily travel choice and how these might be influenced choice through sustainable initiatives

2.2 Response Rate

There was an excellent response rate of 69% of the 3,022 University Staff

3 Results from the 2006 Travel Survey

3.1 Modal share

In order to provide a comparison of the change in travel behaviour, the outputs from the 2006 survey are compared to that carried out in 2000.

Mode of Transport Percentage of staff (2000) Percentage of staff (2006) Percentage change
Car 55.2% 53.9% -1.3%
Bike 19.4% 20.7% +1.3%
Foot 19.3% 19.3% +/- 0%
Bus 3.4% 4.6% +1.2%
Train 0.6% 0.8% +0.2%
Motorbike/Moped 1.6% 0.6% -1.0%
Taxi 0.5% 0.1% -0.4%

This modal share analysis shows the primary means of travelling to the University, however it should be noted that:

  • Large numbers of staff travel by variable travel modes and do not have a set routine
  • Half of all car users do not travel by car every day of the week
  • Over half of public transport users state another transport option as their primary mode

It can be seen that there has been some slight shift away from car use since 2000. An explanation of why there has been a more significant net reduction in University traffic between 2001 and 2004 than anticipated from these figures is that for car users, their alternative means of travel are being used more frequently.

A key theme emerging from the modal share results is that there are a variety of factors that can affect travel choice on a day-to-day basis. Travel decisions are based on complex and individual rationales and examining staff attitudes and behaviours facilitated the extraction of identifiable trends.

3.2 Travel Distance

34.5% of staff live within 2 miles of the University but over half travel by car more frequently than they walk. A further 24.6% live less than 5 miles away. Improvements to cycle and walking routes, and public transport links provides the means of encouraging these groups to use their cars less frequently. Only 12.9% of staff live more than 20 miles from the University.

3.3 Attitudes and Behaviours

The key theme to emerge is that the journey to and from work can be complex. A variety of pre and post work activities complicate the basic home-to-work journey for many members of staff and often lead to a variety of travel modes being chosen based on daily circumstances. The car provides the greatest flexibility to accommodate this variety.

The most significant measure identified by car drivers that would encourage a change in individual travel behaviour are associated with improving public transport links to The University through:

  • More frequent bus services
  • More direct services to The University
  • Direct links to the Park and Ride and The University
  • Discounted fares schemes

Other opportunities for promoting more sustainable travel from information gathered from the survey include:

  • 40% of car users would be prepared to car share
  • 'Safer cycle routes to The University' were considered to be respondents' cycling and walking priorities
  • 'Reduced charges for less frequent permit use' were considered to be respondents' car park charging priorities

However 30% of car users stated that there were no initiatives that would lead them to change their travel behaviour. This will be the most difficult target group to change.

4 Conclusions

It is apparent that individual choice on how to travel to The University is guided by a number of factors. These decisions change over the course of the working week and the academic year. Although there is a hard core of car drivers who say that they will not change their travel pattern, the majority would make alternative choices if suitable options were available to them. 40% would be prepared to participate in the car share scheme if the benefits and visibility could be improved. If car drivers were to take alternatives modes of transport once or twice a week this could collectively make a significant contribution to achieving the travel targets that have been set. However The University cannot make these alternatives attractive by ourselves. We need pro-active support from CYC and the local transport providers to:

  • Improve pedestrian and cycle routes and ensure they are safe and user friendly
  • Provide additional public transport links
  • Consider how the Park and Ride sites could be linked to The University
  • Continue to provide reduced fares for regular public transport users.

It will be more difficult to persuade the 30% of car users who have stated that there are no initiatives that will persuade them to change their travel behaviours. This group may eventually respond to a combination of measures, linking improved alternative travel means with a different regime of car park charging that rewards less frequent use of the car.

5 Recommendations

It is proposed that action is taken as follows

  • The current links with the local authority and public transport providers are strengthened with the objective of delivering more sustainable travel alternatives to The University.
  • The charging policy at car parks should encourage intermittent use and equitable in relation to income
  • Awareness should be raised throughout The University on what our travel targets are and how we are performing against them. This should make car drivers appreciate that leaving their car at home one or more times a week can collectively make a significant impact
  • Future policy, where appropriate, is initially targeted towards reducing the frequency with which University staff members use their cars, rather than directly trying to reduce the number of car users per se
  • The University's travel planning should become more localised and even individualised to address specific subtleties that are affecting travel behaviour