Travel to school

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • in the 5 years from 2014 to 2018, the average trip time to school was 19 minutes (one way)
  • walking was the most common form of transport for all ethnic groups
  • on average, White and Asian children had the shortest trip time but White children had the longest distance to travel to school
  • White and Asian children were more likely to travel to school by car compared with other ethnic groups
  • Black children and those from the Other ethnic group were more likely to travel to school by bus compared with other ethnic groups
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.

For example, the published data for the period from 2014 to 2018 is an average of the data for 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18. The Department for Transport works out a new average 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.

The data is based on trips to and from school by 5 to 16 year olds living in England. The data includes trips to and from schools in Wales and Scotland.

Each trip is counted separately.

The data doesn’t include trips over 50 miles.

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

The number of 5 to 16 year olds in each ethnic group in the 5 years to 2018 (before weighting was applied) was:

  • Asian: 1,122
  • Black: 569
  • Mixed: 362
  • White: 9,171
  • Other: 185
What the data measures

The data looks at how 5 to 16 year olds get to or from school. It includes their:

  • average one-way trip distance in miles
  • average one-way trip time in minutes
  • mode of transport (for example, car, bus or train)

The data is broken down by ethnicity.

The ethnic categories used in this data

For this data, the number of people surveyed was too small to draw any firm conclusions about individual ethnic categories. Therefore, the data is broken down into the following 5 aggregated groups:

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

2. By ethnicity over time (average trip distance)

Average trip distance in miles to or from school for 5 to 16 year olds, by ethnicity over time
Time All Asian Black Mixed White Other
Miles Miles Miles Miles Miles Miles
2002/06 2.3 1.9 2.4 1.9 2.4 2.2
2003/07 2.3 1.8 2.4 2.0 2.3 2.2
2004/08 2.3 1.8 2.4 2.0 2.4 2.4
2005/09 2.3 1.7 2.5 1.9 2.4 1.9
2006/10 2.4 1.8 2.4 1.9 2.4 2.3
2007/11 2.4 1.8 2.3 1.8 2.4 2.8
2008/12 2.4 1.9 2.3 1.8 2.5 2.7
2009/13 2.5 1.9 2.4 2.0 2.5 2.6
2010/14 2.5 2.0 2.3 1.9 2.6 2.6
2011/15 2.5 2.0 2.2 2.1 2.6 2.2
2012/16 2.4 2.0 2.3 2.0 2.5 2.1
2013/17 2.4 1.9 2.2 2.2 2.5 2.1
2014/18 2.4 1.8 2.1 2.1 2.5 2.3

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity over time (average trip distance)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity over time (average trip distance)’ (CSV)

Summary of Travel to school By ethnicity over time (average trip distance) Summary

This data shows that:

  • between 2014 to 2018, the average distance to school for 5 to 16 year olds was 2.4 miles
  • White children had the longest trip to school (2.5 miles), and Asian children had the shortest (1.8 miles)

3. By ethnicity over time (average trip duration)

Average trip time in minutes to or from school for 5 to 16 year olds, by ethnicity over time
Time All Asian Black Mixed White Other
Minutes Minutes Minutes Minutes Minutes Minutes
2002/06 18 18 26 21 18 22
2003/07 18 17 25 21 18 22
2004/08 19 17 25 20 18 22
2005/09 19 17 26 19 18 19
2006/10 19 17 25 20 19 21
2007/11 19 18 24 20 19 23
2008/12 19 18 25 20 19 23
2009/13 19 18 25 21 19 23
2010/14 19 18 24 21 19 22
2011/15 19 18 24 21 19 23
2012/16 19 18 23 21 19 21
2013/17 19 18 23 21 19 20
2014/18 19 18 22 20 19 20

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity over time (average trip duration)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity over time (average trip duration)’ (CSV)

Summary of Travel to school By ethnicity over time (average trip duration) Summary

This data shows that:

  • the average time spent travelling to or from school has consistently been between 18 and 19 minutes
  • in the 5 years between 2014 and 2018, Asian and White children had the shortest trip time (18 minutes and 19 minutes), and Black children had the longest (22 minutes)
  • between 2002/06 and 2014/18, the average trip time for Black children decreased from 26 to 22 minutes – it was fairly stable for all other ethnic groups

4. By ethnicity over time (type of transport)

Percentage of trips to or from school for 5 to 16 year olds, by ethnicity and type of transport over time
All Asian Black Mixed White Other
Main mode of transport All % 2002/06 All % 2014/18 Asian % 2002/06 Asian % 2014/18 Black % 2002/06 Black % 2014/18 Mixed % 2002/06 Mixed % 2014/18 White % 2002/06 White % 2014/18 Other % 2002/06 Other % 2014/18
Bicycle 2 2 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 2 2 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Car / Van 31 35 33 36 19 24 29 27 32 36 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 28
Local bus 13 12 12 12 31 21 17 14 12 11 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 21
Other 1 2 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 1 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Private bus 5 4 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 5 4 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Surface Rail 1 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 1 1 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Walk 48 44 49 45 45 48 47 54 48 44 51 45

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity over time (type of transport)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity over time (type of transport)’ (CSV)

Summary of Travel to school By ethnicity over time (type of transport) Summary

This data shows that:

  • in the 5 years between 2014 and 2018, an average of 44% of children walked to school, making it the most common way of getting to school
  • White and Asian children were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to travel to and from school by car (at 36%)

5. 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 last 5 years about 700 people were in the Mixed ethnic group and 900 were in the Other ethnic groups. The data does not support further detailed breakdowns. This is because these estimates would be unreliable.

If 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)

6. 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).

7. Download the data

Travel time to school - Spreadsheet (csv) 14 KB

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

Mode of travel to school - Spreadsheet (csv) 84 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, value

Distance travelled to school - Spreadsheet (csv) 14 KB

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