Travel by distance, trips, type of transport and purpose

The main facts and figures show that:

  • overall, in the period from 2013 to 2017, people in England travelled about 6,560 miles per year on average, and made an average of 949 trips per year
  • White people travelled the greatest distance and made the most trips in this period, and Black people travelled the smallest distance and made the fewest trips
  • overall, out of all modes of transport, the greatest distance travelled and the majority of the trips made were in a car or van (as either passenger or driver)
  • out of all reasons for travelling, the greatest distance travelled was for leisure for all ethnic groups except Black, where a similar distance was travelled for leisure and commuting purposes
Things you need to know

The National Travel Survey (NTS) has been run in the same way from 2002/06 to 2013/17. This means there is a high level of consistency in the data.

To increase the reliability of the data, the Department for Transport combines data for each year into a 5-year average. This process continues over a series of overlapping 5-year periods.

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.

Since 2013, the NTS has surveyed people living in England only, whereas previously it also included residents of Scotland and Wales. To ensure the data on this page is consistent, responses from residents of Scotland and Wales for the years up to 2013 have been excluded.

The number of respondents for each ethnic group in the 2013/17 period (before weighting was applied) was:

  • Asian: 4,755
  • Black: 1,998
  • Mixed: 635
  • White: 61,425
  • Other: 805

Because of the smaller number of respondents from the Mixed and Other ethnic groups, any generalisations based on the results for these groups should be used with caution.

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. Find out more about regional ethnic diversity.

The data for ‘All ethnic groups’ includes people who did not give their ethnicity. In the data for 2013/17, 37 people answering this question (0.05%) did not state their ethnicity.

There have been some revisions to the NTS source data, so these figures will not match previously published figures. Therefore, changes cannot be identified by comparing previously published figures with these published figures.

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 data comes from the Department for Transport’s National Travel Survey.

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 per year, 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 7,151 1,065 4,567 876 4,704 823 4,964 938 7,434 1,087 4,473 840
2003/07 7,139 1,049 4,489 868 4,876 816 5,002 943 7,424 1,071 4,584 854
2004/08 7,076 1,041 4,505 865 4,796 833 5,277 937 7,356 1,061 4,536 863
2005/09 7,007 1,029 4,590 870 4,784 836 5,304 943 7,285 1,048 4,386 863
2006/10 6,910 1,012 4,695 859 4,685 828 5,327 930 7,188 1,031 4,438 865
2007/11 6,842 993 4,595 836 4,637 826 5,088 908 7,134 1,013 4,627 836
2008/12 6,734 987 4,589 837 4,497 827 4,950 891 7,037 1,009 4,429 798
2009/13 6,675 973 4,556 832 4,394 813 4,841 880 6,990 994 4,588 795
2010/14 6,630 962 4,482 808 4,455 809 4,814 859 6,947 984 4,536 784
2011/15 6,622 952 4,469 798 4,360 799 4,703 871 6,953 975 4,048 754
2012/16 6,570 949 4,630 801 4,280 792 4,806 869 6,887 971 4,107 783
2013/17 6,564 949 4,645 801 4,190 778 5,128 883 6,880 972 4,262 796

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • overall, in the period from 2013 to 2017, people in England travelled an average of 6,564 miles per person per year, a decrease of 587 miles compared with 2002/06
  • in the same period, White people travelled an average of 6,880 miles per person per year, over 1,500 miles more than the average distance travelled by people in each of the other ethnic groups – this was a consistent trend over the time studied
  • people from the Black ethnic group travelled the least distance – 4,190 miles per year in 2013 to 2017

Distance travelled by ethnicity and mode of transport

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

All Asian Black Mixed White Other
Main_Mode_of_Transport % Miles % Miles % Miles % Miles % Miles % Miles
Bicycle 1 54 0 14 1 24 1 36 1 60 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Bus in London 1 77 4 196 12 520 3 157 1 45 8 338
Car / van driver 50 3,268 41 1,912 33 1,389 32 1,654 51 3,508 40 1,708
Car / van passenger 28 1,833 29 1,324 21 869 34 1,766 28 1,925 26 1,124
London Underground 1 93 4 205 5 201 2 117 1 77 4 182
Motorcycle 0 32 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 1 36 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Non-local bus 1 50 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 1 50 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Other local bus 3 192 2 105 5 209 4 229 3 199 4 157
Other private transport 2 104 1 44 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 2 112 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Other public transport 1 48 1 29 1 49 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 1 50 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Surface Rail 9 560 11 526 14 588 11 575 8 564 9 369
Taxi / minicab 1 56 1 43 1 60 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 1 57 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Walk 3 196 4 182 5 194 5 243 3 196 5 212

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • overall, in the period from 2013 to 2017, 78% of the distance travelled was by car or van, and 16% was 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 with 54% of the distance travelled by Black people
  • 12% of the distance travelled by Black people was by bus in London, compared with 1% of the distance travelled by White people
  • 14% of the distance travelled by Black people was by rail (not including underground), compared with 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 per year, by ethnicity and purpose of journey

All Asian Black Mixed White Other
Trip_Purpose % Miles % Miles % Miles % Miles % Miles % Miles
Business 9 608 6 274 7 283 6 304 10 659 7 285
Commuting 20 1,296 30 1,383 27 1,124 19 962 19 1,304 26 1,114
Education 5 331 8 390 12 483 10 538 5 315 10 424
Leisure 40 2,615 32 1,490 27 1,116 43 2,188 41 2,795 31 1,337
Other escort 7 444 6 282 7 288 9 437 7 467 7 285
Other including just walk 1 49 1 26 0 14 1 30 1 53 1 24
Personal business 7 475 8 371 12 520 7 364 7 486 9 371
Shopping 11 745 9 430 9 362 6 305 12 799 10 423

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • overall, in the period from 2013 to 2017, people travelled the greatest distance (40%) for leisure, including trips to visit friends and for entertainment, sport and holidays – this was twice the distance travelled for commuting (20%)
  • Black people travelled the lowest percentage of their average annual distance for leisure (at 27% of miles travelled), and people with Mixed ethnicity travelled the highest percentage for leisure (at 43%)
  • White people travelled the lowest percentage of their average annual distance for education, including taking children to school (at 5% of miles travelled), and Black people travelled the highest percentage for education (at 12%)

Number of trips per person by ethnicity over time

Average number of trips per person per year, by ethnicity over time

Time All Asian Black Mixed White Other
Trips Trips Trips Trips Trips Trips
2002/06 1,065 876 823 938 1,087 840
2003/07 1,049 868 816 943 1,071 854
2004/08 1,041 865 833 937 1,061 863
2005/09 1,029 870 836 943 1,048 863
2006/10 1,012 859 828 930 1,031 865
2007/11 993 836 826 908 1,013 836
2008/12 987 837 827 891 1,009 798
2009/13 973 832 813 880 994 795
2010/14 962 808 809 859 984 784
2011/15 952 798 799 871 975 754
2012/16 949 801 792 869 971 783
2013/17 949 801 778 883 972 796

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • overall, in the period from 2013 to 2017, people in England made an average of 949 trips per year, down by 116 trips since 2002/06
  • all ethnic groups saw a reduction in the number of trips since 2002/06, but people in the Black and Other ethnic groups saw the smallest reduction (at a decrease of 45 and 44 trips respectively)
  • on average, White people made the highest number of trips per person per year in the period from 2013 to 2017 (at 972), and people from the Black ethnic group made the lowest number of trips per person (at 778)

Number of trips per person by ethnicity and mode of transport

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

All Asian Black Mixed White Other
Mode of Transport % Trips % Trips % Trips % Trips % Trips % Trips
Bicycle 2 16 1 6 1 7 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 2 17 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Bus in London 2 19 6 47 15 118 5 44 1 11 11 87
Car / van driver 41 385 31 252 24 189 20 180 42 410 28 219
Car / van passenger 22 205 22 174 16 122 27 236 22 211 16 131
London Underground 1 10 2 20 3 22 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 1 8 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Motorcycle 0 3 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 0 3 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Non-local bus 0 1 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 0 1 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Other local bus 4 39 3 23 6 47 6 53 4 40 4 35
Other private transport 1 6 0 3 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 1 7 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Other public transport 0 3 0 4 1 7 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 0 3 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Surface Rail 2 21 3 25 4 35 3 27 2 19 4 28
Taxi / minicab 1 10 1 8 1 10 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 1 10 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Walk 24 232 30 237 28 215 33 292 24 230 31 243

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in the period from 2013 to 2017, White people made the highest percentage of trips by car or van (as a driver or passenger) out of all ethnic groups (at 64%), while Black people made the lowest percentage of trips by car or van (at 40%)
  • White people also made the highest percentage of their trips by car or van as a driver out of all ethnic groups (at 42%), while people with Mixed ethnicity made the lowest percentage of trips as a driver (at 20%)
  • all ethnic groups made between 2% and 5% of their trips by rail
  • Black people made the highest percentage of trips by local bus out of all ethnic groups (at 21%)
  • people with Mixed ethnicity were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to make their trips on foot (at 33% of all trips made) and White people were least likely to (at 24%)

Number of trips per person by ethnicity and purpose of journey

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

All Asian Black Mixed White Other
Trip_Purpose % Trips % Trips % Trips % Trips % Trips % Trips
Business 3 31 2 17 3 26 2 20 3 32 4 30
Commuting 15 145 20 158 18 137 12 106 15 145 18 144
Education 12 118 20 164 22 174 23 207 11 109 20 161
Leisure 26 245 18 142 17 132 25 217 27 260 18 144
Other escort 9 86 9 69 8 64 11 99 9 88 9 71
Other including just walk 5 49 3 25 2 14 5 42 5 53 4 29
Personal business 10 92 11 91 14 110 9 78 10 93 9 68
Shopping 19 183 17 136 15 120 13 114 20 191 19 150

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • overall, in the period from 2013 to 2017, 26% of trips were made for leisure, the highest percentage out of all reasons for making a journey – leisure includes trips to visit friends, and trips for entertainment, sport and holidays
  • 19% of trips were for shopping, and 15% were for commuting
  • White people made 11% of their trips for reasons to do with education (including taking children to school), while the percentage for other ethnic groups ranged from 20% to 23%
  • White people made the highest percentage of trips for leisure (at 27%) out of all ethnic groups, while Black people made the lowest percentage (at 17%)

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 are 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 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

Further technical information

National Travel Survey 2017: notes and definitions (PDF)

Data sources

Source

National Travel Survey

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