Transport and Travel Statistics Advisory Committee minutes – January 21st 2009
Chair: Carol Ann Munn (CAM), Scottish Government (SG) Transport Statistics
Secretary: Julie Goodlet-Rowley (JAGR), SG Transport Statistics
Attendees:Philippa Cochrane (PC) / SUSTRANS
Stewart Dick (SD) / Scottish Branch Treasurer, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT)
David Eaglesham (DE) / Road Haulage Association
Gavin Scott (GS) / Freight Transport Association
Jeffrey Davidson (JD) / MVA
Derek Halden (DH) / Derek Halden Consultancy
Tom Hart (TH) / Scottish Transport Studies Group
Clive Marchant (CM) / Logistics Research Centre, Heriot-Watt University
Robert Raeside (RR) / Transport Research Institute, Napier University
Jock Robertson (JR) / Independent consultant, representing Transport Statistics Users Group
Marjory Rodger (MR) / Director Government Relations, Confederation for Passenger Transport
Nigel Percy (NP) / Lothian & Borders Police, representing ACPOS
Alastair Short (AS) / SESTRANS
Ron Hunter (RH) / SPT, representing Planning, Economics & Transport R&I Group, COSLA
Neil Sturrock (NS) / SPT - Strathclyde Partnership for Transport
Hugh Gilles (HG) / Transport Economics, Analysis and Research (TEAR), Transport Scotland
Julie-Ann Goodlet-Rowley (JAGR) / Transport Statistics, SG
Sara Grainger (SGr) / Statistical Support for Public Bodies, SG
Andrew Knight (AK) / Transport Statistics, SG
Nic Krzyzanowski (NK) / Scottish Household Survey (SHS) project manager, SG
Kenneth Humphreys (KH) / Tourism Statistics, SG
Fiona Locke (FL) / Transport Policy, SG
Carol Ann Munn (CAM) / Transport Statistics, SG
Susan Walker (SW) / Environment Statistics, SG
Mick Wilson (MW) / Head of Transport Analytical Services Team, SG
Apologies:Simon Bradshaw / Lothian & Borders Police, representing ACPOS (rep by NP)
David Connolly / MVA (rep by JD)
Andy Cope / SUSTRANS (rep by PC)
Iain Docherty / Urban Studies Department, Glasgow University
Phil Flanders / Road Haulage Association (rep by DE)
Mark Haseley / Jacobs Consultancy
David McPhee / Communities, SG
Antonia Roberts / Transport Statistics, Department for Transport
1. Introduction to meeting
1.1 CAM welcomed everyone to the meeting and introductions were held around the table.
1.2 Members of the Committee were content with the minutes of the previous meeting and there were no matters arising from the minutes.
1.3 CAM ran through the Action points of the previous meeting and gave members an update on their progress. CAM noted that a fuel costs graph wasn’t included in the latest Scottish Transport Statistics (STS) but can be added to the website and future publications.
1.4 CAM explained that members views as users of the statistics were very important and that she hoped to have useful discussions around the quality and presentation of the statistics and the challenges existing around local area data - in light of the ongoing Single Outcome Agreement (SOA) processes.
1.5 CAM introduced SGr to talk about ongoing developments in the National Performance Framework and Single Outcome Agreement process.
2. Paper 1a - The National Performance Framework: Recent Progress and Future Plans &
Paper 1b: ScotStat network of Analysts from Local Government and Other Public Bodies
2.1 SGr introduced the paper and highlighted 2 main points:
2.2 The first main point from the paper addressed the seven purpose indicators and 45 national indicators presented on Scotland Performs (
2.2.1 Arrows on each of the national indicators show how the indicator is performing. The technical notes behind the indicators present the detailed methodology and explanation into how the data is collected and the arrows analysed.
2.2.2 SGr noted that there are future plans to improve the arrow system as the current system only indicates the change in the past year. The new system may include a marker to show progress towards longer term objectives and also include information on how other non-government bodies are helping to achieve this objective.
2.3 The second main point from the paper addressed the issue of SOAs.
2.3.1 2008/09 SOA were agreed last year. Brief interim reports are due in April 2009 and full reports are due in September 2009.
2.3.2 2009/10 SOAs are currently being drafted and will be with the Scottish Government by February 2009, with the aim to be signed off in May 2009. The Scottish Government is currently working with the Improvement Services to improve local indicators.
2.3.3 SGr noted that the Improvement Services list is intended for guidance only and that the indicators within the document are not compulsory. The Scottish Government team are currently identifying gaps in the menu and data available to LAs and is working to improve this.
2.4 CAM noted that her team had helped the directors in the SOA process to ensure that the SOAs reflected fairly the transport issues faced by LAs and CAM noted that this role will continue.
2.5 CAM indicated that the five main areas that the Scottish Government felt were important for SOAs were: Travel to Work, Congestion, Road Accidents, Road Condition and Travel to School.
2.6 CAM also noted that although data existed at Scotland level some indicators, particularly Travel to School may be problematic at LA level due to sample size constraints (as uses Scottish Household Survey data).
2.7 AS commented that he had been working on accessibility through public transport, including access to bus stops within 400m; however, he noted that this is not a particularly good indicator as it does not take into account the route that the bus takes from that stop. LAs are working to produce better indicators.
2.8 AS also commented that data is localised and hard to find at Scotland level. CAM suggested that SNS may be a good site to use. AS had used the site but pointed out that LAs find it hard to select which indicators to use.
2.9 RH noted that there are sample size problems with smaller LAs in the SPT region and was not aware of the five transport key areas. He also noted it would be useful to know if the Improvement Services were changing the priorities of their indicators.
ACTION 1: CAM to put information on the Transport website information about the five key indicators, including sources and data limitations.
ACTION 2: CAM to send this information round to all TTSAC members and LA contacts.
2.10 AS noted that it would be good to have more information as some LAs are struggling with the remit and don’t have a lot of time to spend on searching for data.
2.11 CAM pointed out that the Scottish Government does not want to be too prescriptive about data sources but can make it clear what sources are available.
2.12 SGr noted that there is a new initiative in the Scottish Government to include a section on each topic website containing information about data sources, suitability and availability. The Scottish Government are planning to pull together all content from the topic websites to form an index organised by National Outcomes.
2.13 SGr noted that there is a new ScotStat network set up for local government and other public body analysts to discuss methodological and cross-cutting issues. Workshops and working-groups (all demand-led) are currently being set up. If members are interested in joining this network then they should e-mail
2.14 DE asked if traffic volumes could be split between HGVs and cars at a LA level to help with traffic flows. CAM noted that sample sizes may limit this.
ACTION 3: CAM to check if this is possible and to let DE know – it isn’t.
2.15 MW noted that data is available at LA but dependent on the indicator, e.g. travel to school is questionable at LA using the SHS. The only option is to combine several years worth of data.
2.16 MR noted that buses use GPS equipment and, where Quality Partnerships are in place, data is passed to LAs so that they can monitor route usage.
ACTION 4: CAM to investigate if it is possible to receive anonymous sets of data.
2.17 PC gave an update on the work being under taken by school travel coordinators in response to poor SHS sample size.
2.17.1 The first hands up survey took place in September 2008. Thirty out of 32 LAs took part. This was a snap shot survey, with lots of data collected and is currently being analysed for each LA. Each LA will get a detailed school breakdown. It will soon be possible to produce RTP and Scotland level report. This survey can take place annually.
2.17.2 SGr stated that PC should contact her if she would like to find out more information about gaining official statistics certification.
2.17.3 JR worried that more LAs might drop out next year and that there should be some help in place to try to stop this happening.
2.18 SD pointed out that small sample sizes can lead to false ideas about how a LA is performing. More information about data sources should be available.
2.19 JR noted that gaining official statistics certification should be important as it is a way to ensure that standards are adhered to and data should be published in publications such as STS.
ACTION 5: PC to liase with CAM regarding early sight of the school survey data and the process involved in gaining “official statistics” status.
2.20 RR noted that he was currently involved in evaluating four LAs SOAs to determine the quality and relevance of indicators/data used. RR expressed concern over the indicators used on emissions but was unable to comment on the transport indicators as these have not yet been evaluated.
2.21 RH expressed concern over the lack of environmental data at LA level, which was needed to determine if eco-footprint projects should be run.
2.22 JR agreed that workshops are important and can enhance best practice and asked if there could be a sub-group set up to discuss transport related SOA issues.
ACTION 6: CAM to investigate if there is need to set up sub-groups to discuss the local authority transport data that exists and how gaps could be filled.
2.23 TH asked if there was any possibility to change the indicators used on Scotland Performs as there are currently only two but there may be more relevant indicators.
2.24 CAM responded by stating that there is no scope at the moment to change the indicators but it may be possible to extend the contextual information around the indicators. Some of the data around the indicators are published elsewhere, e.g. Household Transport and Travel Diary.
2.25 CAM also stated that it may be possible to develop a series of single-page topic based reports, which would be published on the Transport website.
2.26 MW noted that the travel to work and working from home data is published elsewhere. Congestion information is also provided in more detail in other publications as well, giving a more contextual base to the data.
ACTION 7: CAM to ensure all users are kept updated when data are published and what publications.
2.27 MR asked if COSLA or LA representatives should be present on TTSAC.
2.28 DE agreed with MR and thought that COSLA would be used to cascade information back to LAs.
2.29 It was noted that information is cascaded back to LAs through Information Services and SOLACE not through COSLA.
ACTION 7: CAM to look at widening TTSAC membership to include local authorities. Members of TTSAC are also requested to contact CAM with suggestions.
2.30 SG also stated that the Scottish Government will keep TTSAC members informed about all on going indicator projects. Currently on Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics (SNS) it is possible to download all National Indicator data at LA level (where available). A new report is being created through which is will be possible to download all the indicators included on the Improvement Service’s Menu of Local Indicators (where available).
3. Paper 1c – Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics
3.1 CAM gave a brief update on what local authority breakdowns of transport statistics had been added to the SNS site in the last year and highlighted an example report, which included crosses with non-transport statistics (e.g. employment).
3.2 JAGR informed members that the site was now published weekly as opposed to quarterly so the information will be readily updated.
3.3 TH requested if it would be possible to include the usage of rail on SNS at a LA level.
ACTION 8: CAM to investigate whether or not it is possible to add rail usage data at a LA level to SNS.
3.4 DH noted that the cross-linked table presented in the paper shows how straightforward it should be for LAs to build a case for their area and can be used to show national and local comparisons. However, noted that it would be good to see access to services revised.
ACTION 9: CAM to liase with DH and update him on developments with SNS accessibility indicators.
4. Paper 2: Recent/Forthcoming developments in SG Transport Statistics
4.1 CAM highlighted that the transport statistics team is a small branch comprised of only four people and resources are limited.
4.2 The Statistics Reform agenda is focused on quality, clarity and assessment of official statistics in the Scottish Government. CAM informed members that there is now an assessment branch in Scotland and all official statistics will be assessed over the next five years.
4.2.1 Two DfT transport statistics will be assessed in the near future: Road Accident Statistics (GB wide) and Freight statistics (GB wide).
4.3 CAM highlighted that there had been some changes to the SHS survey for 2009 and that there were significant delays with the Travel Diary. These are covered in a later paper.
4.4 CAM also noted that there may be a slight delay in the publication of the Bus and Coach Statistics bulletin as the Department for Transport (DfT) were reviewing the quality of their finance data. Another major piece of work undertaken by the transport team was the review of the concessionary travel scheme.
4.5 This involved working with CPT and bus companies, looking into reimbursement rates and evaluation schemes. Bus data was also looked at to examine user satisfaction, how the data is used and gaps in the knowledge.
4.6 CAM explained that the Road Safety Strategy will use data taken from Road Accident Statistics.
4.7 After the previous meeting a specific freight publication was commissioned to pull together all freight data rather than reorganise STS. This is mentioned at paragraph 7
4.8 CAM explained that although the publication schedule had been fixed for 2008, the commentary was condensed, more sign-posting was added and clearer figures were added to each bulletin to make them more user friendly.
4.9 CAM also explained that the bulletins were now all web-only after consultation with users. This should also ensure that publications are released to the public in a much more timely manner than before.
4.10 CAM explained the reasons behind the delay in Road Accident Statistics 2007 due to a major last minute revision but that the publication would be released as soon as possible.
4.11 CAM asked members if there was anything they felt we should be publishing or if we should stop re-publishing statistics in several different publications.
4.11.1 GS found no problem with web-only publications but thought the website/bulletins should include an index to where to find all the recent statistics.
4.11.2 CAM asked if the website would be better arranged in the form of topics rather than publications.
4.11.3 PC commented that she found it easier to search by topics and that repetition of data meant that it was hard to find where the latest data was stored and time was then needed to check for updates.
4.11.4 MR added that need to highlight where the latest data is used and web-only publications were fine. A Local Authority publication would be ideal but only where sample size permitted such a publication.
4.11.5 SD suggested that publications contain a large disclaimer stating that data may be out of date and should check website for latest versions.
4.11.6 MW stated this was the reason for the Main Transport Trends publication as STS was moved to the end of the year. AK stated STS had to be moved due to the late updates for some tables.
4.11.7 JR suggested that the website have improved sign posting to help users.
4.11.8 DH commented that he only regularly looks at STS and RAS. Everything else he looks at web-based so there is no need for hard copies of these other publications.
ACTION 10: CAM to investigate reorganising website to a topic based structure, latest updates and better signposting.
ACTION 11: CAM to revise the TRANSPORT STATISTICS publication schedule
4.12 JR noted that although reduced commentary was good for experienced users, new users may find the commentary essential for understanding the tables/data.
4.12.1 MR noted that it was helpful to have commentary to explain changes and fluctuations in the data.
4.12.2 RH noted that with the SOAs it may be inexperienced users who look to the bulletins for information.
4.13 TH asked if it was possible to include forecasting and modelling to try to determine how trends may change in future.
4.14 CAM noted that fuel costs graphs will appear in the next issue of STS.
5. Paper 3 - News from the ScotStat Board
5.1 JAGR gave a brief overview of the results of the last ScotStat board meeting, including what was discussed at the Annual Stakeholders Conference in October.