Travel by distance, trips, type of transport and purpose

There is a new version of this page

View the latest version

The main facts and figures show that:

  • overall, people in England travelled about 6,600 miles per year and made an average of 932 trips per year in the period from 2011 to 2015

  • White people travelled the greatest distance and made the most trips in this period, and people from the Other ethnic group travelled the smallest distance and made the fewest trips

  • overall, the greatest distance travelled, and the majority of the trips made, were by car or van, either as a passenger or a driver

  • the greatest distance travelled was for leisure for all ethnic groups except Asian people, where a broadly equal distance was travelled for leisure and commuting

Things you need to know

The National Travel Survey has been run in the same way from 2002/06 to 2011/15. This means there is a high level of consistency in the data.

To increase the reliability of the data, the information is collected over a series of overlapping 5-year periods. The average for each 5-year period is then calculated.

This type of survey methodology increases the reliability of the data. However, tests for significant differences between ethnic groups have not been carried out. Commentary has been supplied for those findings where there are relatively large differences between ethnic groups or modes of transport.

Location is a factor in the variety of distance travelled and number of trips made by different ethnic groups. The average distance travelled by people in urban areas is significantly lower than in rural areas, and a higher proportion of ethnic minority groups live in urban areas. The 2011 Census found that 98% of Black and Asian people lived in urban areas, compared to 80% of White people.

The data for ‘All ethnic groups’ includes people who did not give their ethnicity.

What the data measures

This data measures the distance people travel, and the number of trips they make, every year. The data is broken down by ethnicity, mode of transport and purpose of journey.

Although the data is based on people living in England, any trips they made in Wales and Scotland are also counted. The data includes people of all ages, including babies and children.

The ethnic categories used in this data

For this data, the number of people surveyed (the ‘sample size’) was too small to draw any firm conclusions about specific ethnic categories. Therefore, the data is broken down into the following 5 broad groups:

  • Asian/Asian British
  • Black/African/Caribbean/Black British
  • Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups
  • White
  • Other ethnic group

Ethnic groups and how data on ethnicity is collected

Distance travelled by ethnicity over time

Average distance in miles travelled per person by ethnicity over time

All Asian Black Mixed White Other
Time Miles Trips Miles Trips Miles Trips Miles Trips Miles Trips Miles Trips
2002/06 7,141 1,041 4,558 851 4,697 805 4,954 914 7,424 1,063 4,465 818
2003/07 7,130 1,026 4,480 843 4,869 799 4,991 917 7,415 1,047 4,576 831
2004/08 7,067 1,017 4,496 842 4,788 815 5,266 910 7,346 1,038 4,528 840
2005/09 6,997 1,006 4,581 846 4,776 817 5,293 915 7,276 1,026 4,377 838
2006/10 6,901 989 4,686 836 4,678 809 5,316 903 7,179 1,009 4,429 840
2007/11 6,833 971 4,586 813 4,630 807 5,077 881 7,125 991 4,617 812
2008/12 6,725 966 4,580 813 4,489 806 4,940 867 7,029 987 4,420 777
2009/13 6,666 952 4,547 808 4,386 793 4,831 856 6,981 973 4,579 774
2010/14 6,622 941 4,473 785 4,447 789 4,804 836 6,939 964 4,527 764
2011/15 6,613 932 4,460 775 4,352 779 4,693 847 6,944 955 4,040 734

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • overall, people in England travelled an average of 6,613 miles per year per person in 2011/15, a decrease of 528 miles per year compared with 2002/06

  • there was a reduction in the distance travelled for every ethnic group over this period, although Asian people saw the smallest reduction in distance, at 98 miles per year

  • White people travelled an average of 6,944 miles per year per person in 2011/15, over 2,000 miles more than the average distance travelled by people in each of the other ethnic groups – a consistent trend over the time studied

  • people from the Other ethnic group travelled the least distance – just over 4,000 miles per year in 2011/15

Distance travelled by ethnicity and mode of transport

Percentage of distance travelled, and average distance travelled in miles, per person by ethnicity and mode of transport

All ethnic groups Asian Black Mixed White Other
Type of transport % Miles % Miles % Miles % Miles % Miles % Miles
Bicycle 1 53 0 14 0 17 1 46 1 58 1 43
Bus in London 1 81 5 209 14 596 4 180 1 45 9 349
Car / van driver 50 3,294 40 1,806 32 1,406 30 1,415 51 3,545 36 1,458
Car / van passenger 28 1,867 27 1,186 23 980 35 1,642 28 1,971 27 1,081
London Underground 1 85 5 221 5 204 3 126 1 67 5 213
Motorcycle 0 33 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality 1 38 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality
Non-local bus 1 52 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality 1 52 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality
Other local bus 3 205 3 149 5 219 4 201 3 210 4 144
Other private transport 2 109 1 45 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality 2 117 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality
Other public transport 1 41 1 24 1 43 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality 1 44 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality
Surface Rail 8 554 12 524 13 556 13 592 8 558 10 421
Taxi / minicab 1 55 1 41 1 61 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality 1 56 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality
Walk 3 184 4 172 4 187 5 224 3 184 5 195

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

  • in 2011/15, overall, people travelled the greatest distance (78%) by car or van, either as a driver or a passenger; 16% of journeys were made by public transport

  • the percentage of distance travelled by different types of transport varied across ethnic groups – for example, 79% of the distance travelled by White people was by car or van, compared to 55% of the distance travelled by Black people

  • 14% of the distance travelled by Black people was by bus in London, compared to 1% of the distance travelled by White people

  • 13% of the distance travelled by Black and people with Mixed ethnicity was by surface rail, compared to 8% of the distance travelled by White people

Distance travelled by ethnicity and purpose of journey

Percentage of distance travelled, and average distance travelled in miles, per person by ethnicity and purpose of journey

All Asian Black Mixed White Other
Trip purpose % Miles % Miles % Miles % Miles % Miles % Miles
Business 9 601 6 246 7 317 5 253 9 651 8 313
Commuting 20 1,301 31 1,371 25 1,079 20 934 19 1,316 23 944
Education 5 330 8 376 11 500 9 423 5 318 9 363
Leisure 40 2,623 31 1,362 27 1,180 40 1,876 40 2,811 33 1,350
Other escort 7 464 7 290 6 271 10 455 7 489 7 264
Other including just walk 1 44 0 21 0 13 1 25 1 48 1 22
Personal business 7 472 8 367 13 583 8 358 7 481 9 353
Shopping 12 777 10 427 9 409 8 368 12 831 11 431

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2011/15, overall, people travelled the greatest distance (40%) for leisure, including trips to visit friends and for entertainment, sport and holidays – this is twice the distance travelled for commuting (20%)

  • the group who travelled the lowest percentage of their average annual distance for leisure was Black (at 27%) and the groups with the highest percentage travelled for leisure were White and Mixed (at 40%)

  • the group with the lowest percentage of average annual distance travelled for education (including taking children to school) was White (at 5%); the group with the highest was Black (at 11%)

Number of trips per person by ethnicity over time

Average number of trips per person by ethnicity over time

Time All Asian Black Mixed White Other
Trips Trips Trips Trips Trips Trips
2002-2006 1,041 851 805 914 1,063 818
2003-2007 1,026 843 799 917 1,047 831
2004-2008 1,017 842 815 910 1,038 840
2005-2009 1,006 846 817 915 1,026 838
2006-2010 989 836 809 903 1,009 840
2007-2011 971 813 807 881 991 812
2008-2012 966 813 806 867 987 777
2009-2013 952 808 793 856 973 774
2010-2014 941 785 789 836 964 764
2011-2015 932 775 779 847 955 734

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • overall, people in England made an average of 932 trips in 2011/15, down by 109 trips since 2002/06

  • all ethnic groups saw a reduction in the number of trips, but Black people saw the smallest reduction (at 26 trips)

  • on average, White people made the highest number of trips per person in 2011/15 (at 955) and people from the Other ethnic group made the lowest number of trips per person (at 734)

Number of trips per person by ethnicity and mode of transport

Percentage of trips, and average number of trips made, per person by ethnicity and mode of transport

All Asian Black Mixed White Other
Type of transport % Trips % Trips % Trips % Trips % Trips % Trips
Bicycle 2 17 1 6 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality 2 17 2 18 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality
Bus in London 2 20 6 50 18 138 6 49 1 12 12 88
Car / van driver 42 387 32 248 23 183 21 177 43 412 27 201
Car / van passenger 22 208 22 169 17 129 28 241 23 215 17 126
London Underground 1 9 3 23 3 24 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality 1 7 4 26
Motorcycle 0 3 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality 0 4 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality
Non-local bus 0 1 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality 0 1 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality
Other local bus 4 41 4 30 6 47 6 51 4 42 5 34
Other private transport 1 7 0 3 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality 1 7 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality
Other public transport 0 3 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality 0 2 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality
Surface Rail 2 20 3 26 4 34 3 27 2 18 3 25
Taxi / minicab 1 10 1 7 1 10 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality 1 10 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality
Walk 22 207 27 209 25 197 29 244 22 206 27 199

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2011/15, White people made the highest percentage of their trips by car or van as a driver or passenger (at 66%), and Black people made the lowest percentage (at 40%)

  • White people also made the highest percentage of their trips by car or van as a driver (at 43%), and people from Mixed ethnic background made the lowest percentage (at 21%)

  • all ethnic groups made between 2% and 4% of their trips by rail

  • Black people made the highest percentage of their trips by local bus, at 24%

  • people with Mixed ethnicity were the most likely to make their trips on foot (at 29%) and White people were least likely (at 22%)

Number of trips per person by ethnicity and purpose of journey

Percentage of trips, and average number of trips made per person, by ethnicity and purpose of journey

All Asian Black Mixed White Other
Trip purpose % Trips % Trips % Trips % Trips % Trips % Trips
Business 3 30 2 18 3 26 2 19 3 32 4 26
Commuting 16 145 20 156 16 127 13 113 15 146 17 128
Education 12 112 20 155 22 174 21 177 11 105 17 128
Leisure 26 243 18 139 18 142 25 215 27 258 19 139
Other escort 9 86 9 67 8 61 11 95 9 89 8 61
Other including just walk 4 41 3 20 2 12 4 33 5 45 3 24
Personal business 10 92 11 88 15 113 9 79 10 92 10 74
Shopping 19 181 17 131 16 124 14 116 20 189 21 154

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • overall, the highest proportion of trips in 2011/15 were for leisure purposes, at 26% – leisure includes trips to visit friends, and trips for entertainment, sport and holidays

  • 19% of trips overall were for shopping, and 16% for commuting

  • White people made 11% of their trips for reasons to do with education (including taking children to school), compared to between 17% and 22% for other ethnic groups

  • White people made the highest percentage of their trips for leisure (at 27%) and Asian and Black people the lowest (both at 18%)

Methodology

Methodology

The denominators are the weighted total number of individuals in each ethnic group. The numerators are the weighted total distance of travel, or number of trips, by different types of transport and for different purposes for each ethnic group.

The NTS data collection consists of a face-to-face interview and a 7-day self-completed written travel diary, allowing travel patterns to be linked with individual characteristics. The NTS covers travel by people in all age groups, including children.

In 2013, the survey coverage changed from sampling residents of England, Wales and Scotland, to residents of England only. Approximately 16,000 individuals, in 7,000 households in England, participate in the NTS each year.

Weighting:

Weighting is used to adjust the results of a survey to make them representative of the population and improve their accuracy.

For example, a survey which contains 25% women and 75% men will not accurately reflect the views of the general population, which has an even 50/50 split.

Statisticians rebalance or ‘weight’ the survey results to more accurately represent the general population. This helps to make them more reliable.

Survey weights are usually applied to make sure the survey sample has broadly the same gender, age, ethnic and geographic make up as the general population.

Responses to the NTS are weighted to take account of different population demographics, but are not grossed to England totals. They’re also weighted to take into account people who didn’t respond or didn’t complete their travel diary in full.

Statistics from the NTS were assessed during 2010 by the UK Statistics Authority. An assessment report (PDF) was published in October 2010. The statistics were confirmed as National Statistics in July 2011.

Suppression rules and disclosure control

Values of fewer than 100 people or 300 trips (before weighting is applied) have been suppressed. ‘Suppression’ means the figures have not been included in the data, because the numbers involved are too small to draw any meaningful conclusions.

For example, in the latest 5-year period, there were only around 700 and 900 individuals in the 'Mixed' and 'Other' ethnic groups respectively, so the data does not support further detailed breakdowns as these estimates would be unreliable.

Where the size of the ethnic group population is small enough that an individual’s identity could be revealed, some other figures have also been excluded.

Rounding

Figures are rounded to the nearest whole percentage. The percentages calculated in the tables are based on unrounded figures.

Related publications

Previous National Travel Survey reports are available.

Quality and methodology information

Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Department for Transport

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

The National Travel Survey (NTS) is a household survey designed to monitor long-term trends in personal travel and to inform the development of policy.

It is the primary source of data on personal travel patterns within England, Scotland and Wales by residents of England.

The survey collects information on how, why, when and where people travel as well as factors affecting travel (for example, car availability and whether people hold driving licences).

Download the data

Travel by distance and type of transport - Spreadsheet (csv) 177 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, value, unweighted sample

Travel by distance and purpose - Spreadsheet (csv) 108 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, value, unweighted sample size

Travel by trips and type of transport - Spreadsheet (csv) 156 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, value, unweighted sample size

Travel by trips and purpose - Spreadsheet (csv) 100 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, value, unweighted sample size