Transport for the North (TfN) had recently published its draft Strategic Transport Plan (STP) for the North of England, which identified how transport connectivity can contribute to the ambitions set out in the Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review, by promoting economic growth, improvement of productivity, and harnessing the competitive advantages of the North. The Strategic Transport Plan incorporated a series of transport investment programmes, including Northern Powerhouse Rail, the Strategic Development Corridors, and Integrated and Smart Travel.
The present study was commissioned by TfN to analyse the causes and effects of travel behaviour of the different socio-economic groups in the North, in order to have a fuller understanding of the relationships between transport connectivity, opportunities, and economic growth, and to strengthen the case for the planned transport investments. The study was to add to the evidence that TfN had already gathered on the effects of the planned investments on overall travel demand, by providing insights on the possible effects of the investments on the travel behaviour of the different groups.
The study comprised several stages:
The literature review suggested that the determinants of transport behaviour are complex, with a range of possible links between the choices made by individuals regarding travel, the constraints they face to those choices, and individual outcomes.
This was confirmed in the quantitative and qualitative analysis, which found that a sizeable proportion of households reported being constrained in their travel behaviour, including number of trips, number of places visited, and distance travelled. However, there were important differences between the travel behaviour of different segments of the population.
We also found that variables measuring travel behaviour (number of trips made outside the local area, number of places visited, and maximum distance travelled) and constraints to travel behaviour were associated with five potential wider impacts: employment, social engagement, social contacts, health, and wellbeing.
The analysis of secondary data on levels of accessibility then confirmed that some segments of the population faced constraints to travel to access destinations such as employment centres, health facilities, and town centres. These constraints derived both from geographic isolation and from the difference in the accessibility provided by public transport and by car.
The results of the primary and secondary data analysis were reviewed in the light of the conceptual framework developed, concluding that the study provided evidence on several of the hypothesized links, especially those related to the choices over travel destinations and travel modes.