Travel by distance, trips, type of transport and purpose

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2014 to 2018, people in England travelled 6,552 miles and made 957 trips per year each on average
  • White people travelled the greatest distance and made the most trips, while Black people travelled the shortest distance and made the fewest trips
  • over three-quarters of all miles travelled were by car, either as a passenger or driver
  • the greatest distance travelled was for leisure for all ethnic groups except the Black and Other ethnic groups, where a similar distance was travelled for both leisure and commuting
Things you need to know

The Department for Transport takes 5 years' worth of data and works out the average for that period. This is because the data varies year from year. A new 5 year average is worked out every year.

While this increases the reliability of the data, it means that some statistical tests have not been carried out. The commentary is about the differences between ethnic groups that are reasonably reliable.

Where people live can affect their travel habits. The average distance travelled by people in urban areas is significantly lower than in rural areas. A higher percentage of ethnic minority groups live in urban areas. The 2011 Census found that 98% of Black and Asian people lived in urban areas, compared with 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 (for example, car, bus or train)
  • 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

2. Distance travelled by ethnicity over time

Average trips made and average distance in miles travelled per person per year, by ethnicity over time
All Asian Black Mixed White Other
Time All Miles All Trips Asian Miles Asian Trips Black Miles Black Trips Mixed Miles Mixed Trips White Miles White Trips Other Miles Other 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
2014/18 6,552 957 4,588 802 4,179 776 5,087 902 6,875 981 4,308 808

Download table data for ‘Distance travelled by ethnicity over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Distance travelled by ethnicity over time’ (CSV)

Summary of Travel by distance, trips, type of transport and purpose Distance travelled by ethnicity over time Summary

This data shows that in 2014 to 2018:

  • people in England travelled an average of 6,552 miles per person per year, a decrease of 599 miles compared with 2002 to 2006
  • on average, White people travelled over 1,500 miles more than people from each of the other ethnic groups (at an average of 6,875 miles per person per year)
  • Black people travelled the shortest distance of any ethnic group, at 4,179 miles per person per year on average

3. 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
Mode of transport All % All Miles Asian % Asian Miles Black % Black Miles Mixed % Mixed Miles White % White Miles Other % Other Miles
Bicycle 1 56 0 19 1 22 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 1 62 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Bus in London 1 73 4 190 11 448 3 135 1 45 6 268
Car / van driver 50 3,273 41 1,866 34 1,433 31 1,588 51 3,518 41 1,752
Car / van passenger 28 1,817 29 1,309 20 826 36 1,851 28 1,908 27 1,158
London Underground 1 97 4 205 4 181 3 138 1 82 4 162
Motorcycle 0 31 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 35 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Non-local bus 1 49 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 48 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Other local bus 3 187 2 101 5 211 4 219 3 194 4 155
Other private transport 2 101 1 38 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 2 109 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Other public transport 1 44 1 26 1 50 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 1 45 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Surface Rail 9 569 12 538 16 657 10 530 8 571 10 421
Taxi / minicab 1 57 1 43 2 64 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 1 58 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Walk 3 199 4 183 5 196 5 261 3 199 5 207

Download table data for ‘Distance travelled by ethnicity and mode of transport’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Distance travelled by ethnicity and mode of transport’ (CSV)

Summary of Travel by distance, trips, type of transport and purpose Distance travelled by ethnicity and mode of transport Summary

This data shows that, in 2014 to 2018:

  • 78% of all miles travelled by people in England were by car or van (either as a driver or a passenger), the highest percentage out of all types of transport
  • 16% of all miles travelled were by public transport
  • car or van journeys accounted for 79% of the distance travelled by White people (the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups), compared with 54% for Black people (the lowest percentage)
  • London bus journeys accounted for 11% of the distance travelled by Black people (the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups), compared with 1% for White people (the lowest percentage)
  • surface rail accounted for 16% of the distance travelled by Black people (the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups), compared with 8% of White people (the lowest percentage)

4. 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
Purpose of trip All % All Miles Asian % Asian Miles Black % Black Miles Mixed % Mixed Miles White % White Miles Other % Other Miles
Business 9 597 6 280 8 317 6 289 9 646 6 276
Commuting 20 1,296 29 1,341 28 1,154 19 958 19 1,306 27 1,160
Education / escort education 5 333 8 382 12 483 10 512 5 317 10 451
Leisure 40 2,619 33 1,500 27 1,117 43 2,173 41 2,803 28 1,219
Other escort 7 441 6 263 6 271 9 452 7 465 8 330
Other including just walk 1 51 1 27 0 15 1 36 1 55 1 26
Personal business 7 477 8 351 12 487 7 350 7 491 8 365
Shopping 11 739 10 444 8 333 6 317 12 792 11 480

Download table data for ‘Distance travelled by ethnicity and purpose of journey’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Distance travelled by ethnicity and purpose of journey’ (CSV)

Summary of Travel by distance, trips, type of transport and purpose Distance travelled by ethnicity and purpose of journey Summary

This data shows that, in 2014 to 2018:

  • 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%)
  • travel for leisure accounted for 27% of the distance travelled by Black people (the lowest percentage out of all ethnic groups), compared with 43% for people with Mixed ethnicity (the highest percentage)
  • travel for education, including taking children to school, accounted for 5% of the distance travelled by White people (the lowest percentage out of all ethnic groups), compared with 12% for Black people (the highest percentage)

5. 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
2014/18 957 802 776 902 981 808

Download table data for ‘Number of trips per person by ethnicity over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Number of trips per person by ethnicity over time’ (CSV)

Summary of Travel by distance, trips, type of transport and purpose Number of trips per person by ethnicity over time Summary

This data shows that, on average in 2014 to 2018:

  • people in England made 957 trips per year (down by 108 trips per year since 2002 to 2006)
  • White people made the most trips per person per year (981) and Black people made the least number of trips per person ( 776)
  • in every ethnic group, people made fewer trips compared with 2002 to 2006

6. 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 All % All Trips Asian % Asian Trips Black % Black Trips Mixed % Mixed Trips White % White Trips Other % Other Trips
Bicycle 2 17 1 8 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 18 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Bus in London 2 18 6 45 13 100 4 34 1 11 9 70
Car / van driver 40 388 31 249 26 198 19 173 42 413 28 229
Car / van passenger 21 204 21 171 16 122 27 248 21 211 18 148
London Underground 1 10 2 19 2 18 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 1 9 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 38 3 22 6 47 6 51 4 38 4 35
Other private transport 1 7 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 1 5 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 26 5 39 3 30 2 20 3 24
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 25 239 30 244 29 222 35 313 24 238 31 249

Download table data for ‘Number of trips per person by ethnicity and mode of transport’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Number of trips per person by ethnicity and mode of transport’ (CSV)

Summary of Travel by distance, trips, type of transport and purpose Number of trips per person by ethnicity and mode of transport Summary

This data shows that, in 2014 to 2018:

  • trips by car or van, as either driver or passenger, accounted for 63% of trips by White people (the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups), compared with 42% for Black people (the lowest percentage)
  • White people made 42% of their trips as a car or van driver (the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups), compared with 19% of people with Mixed ethnicity
  • in every ethnic group, people made between 2% and 5% of their trips by train
  • trips by local bus accounted for 19% of trips by Black people (the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups)
  • people from the Mixed ethnic group were most likely out of all ethnic groups to walk (making up 35% of their trips) and White people were least likely (24%)

7. 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
Purpose of trip All % All Trips Asian % Asian Trips Black % Black Trips Mixed % Mixed Trips White % White Trips Other % Other Trips
Business 3 31 2 18 3 27 2 20 3 32 3 27
Commuting 15 145 19 155 18 140 12 112 15 145 18 149
Education / escort education 12 119 21 166 22 174 22 198 11 111 22 176
Leisure 26 247 18 143 16 128 25 228 27 263 17 138
Other escort 9 86 9 70 9 68 11 101 9 88 10 79
Other including just walk 5 53 3 25 2 16 5 49 6 57 4 31
Personal business 10 93 11 89 14 107 8 74 9 93 8 63
Shopping 19 184 17 137 15 117 13 120 20 192 18 145

Download table data for ‘Number of trips per person by ethnicity and purpose of journey’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Number of trips per person by ethnicity and purpose of journey’ (CSV)

Summary of Travel by distance, trips, type of transport and purpose Number of trips per person by ethnicity and purpose of journey Summary

This data shows that, in 2014 to 2018:

  • 26% of trips were for leisure purposes (trips to visit friends, trips for entertainment, sport and holidays), making it the most common reason for travelling
  • 19% of trips were for shopping and 15% were for commuting
  • 11% of trips made by White people were for education (including taking children to school) – the figure for every other ethnic group was between 21% and 22%
  • 27% of trips made by White people were for leisure (the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups), compared with 16% for Black people (the lowest percentage)

8. Methodology

National Travel Survey respondents complete both a:

  • face-to-face interview
  • 7-day travel diary

This allows the Department for Transport to link travel patterns with individual characteristics.

The survey includes around 16,000 people in 7,000 households in England every year. It covers travel by people in all age groups, including children.

Weighting: Weighting adjusts the results of a survey to make them more reliable and more representative of the general population.

For example, if 25% of a survey's respondents are women, it won't reflect the views of the general population.

National Travel Survey responses are weighted to take account of different population demographics. They’re also weighted to take into account people who didn’t respond or didn’t complete their travel diary in full.

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 2018: notes and definitions (PDF)

9. 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 is designed to:

  • track long-term trends in personal travel
  • inform the development of policy

It is the main source of data on personal travel patterns by residents of England.

The survey collects information on how, why, when and where people travel. It also covers factors affecting people's travel habits (such as whether they have a car and driving licence).

10. Download the data

Travel by distance and purpose - Spreadsheet (csv) 131 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, value, numerator and denominator (weighted and unweighted)

Travel by trips and type of transport - Spreadsheet (csv) 189 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, value, numerator and denominator (weighted and unweighted)

Travel by distance and type of transport - Spreadsheet (csv) 205 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, value, numerator and denominator (weighted and unweighted)

Travel by trips and purpose - Spreadsheet (csv) 123 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, value, numerator and denominator (weighted and unweighted)