The Department for Transport, this summer, published a report on the travel aspirations, needs and behaviour of 16- 25 year olds which highlighted how young people in Britain get from A to B and their feelings on the transport choices available to them.
The main findings:
- Triggers on the road to adulthood, such as moving to university or starting a new job, lead to changes in travel and transport use.
- Overall, young people did not have a clear picture about how much they spent on travel.
- Both advantages (e.g independence) and disadvantages (e.g. responsibilty), of car travel were flagged up.
- Almost half (48%) of 17-25 year olds hold a driving license and cars are used for the majority of this age group’s trips.
- When choosing a car, practical, social and cultural considerations were taken into account.
- There were varied feelings about having to rely on other people for lifts ( especially where local transport provision was poor). This depended on the age of the young person, whether the driver was a family member or not, and whether the designated driver was happy to provide a lift. The main restriction of this travel option was not being able to plan last minute trips or stay out till the early hours.
- Limited public transport was met with feelings of a lack of control on personal travel. Also on a concerning note, lack of public transport after school hours meant that students often found it difficult to take part in after school activities.
- Recommendations for transport included: a need to reduce its environmental impact; increase social inclusion; improve the general quality and extent of local provision; enforce rules regarding payment of fares, road tax and insurance; and extend concessions.
- A lack of consideration for the impact of transport on the environment and health was seen as a local concern and an issue for collective reponsibility.
- Both push and pull mechanisms are involved in young people taking up driving lessons, whilst barriers to their uptake, namely cost, also exist.
- Some respondents said their travel choices reflected the travel behaviour of their older family members e.g. one girl said that she has always travelled by bus because her Mum had always done and she assumed this was the only viable option.
- There appeared to be different levels of tolerance regarding different public transport modes. People were more understanding about delays with trains than they were with buses, believing train delays to be unpreventable but bus delays to be down to staff error.
- There was a clear variation in local knowledge of public transport e.g. bus routes.
- Different transport modes were linked to different identities.
- Mood, time, money, weather, activities planned for the day and whether individuals were travelling alone or in a group, were all factors which led to people temporarily changing the mode used.
- Where criteria for choosing a college or university were equal, ease or cost of travel can be the deciding factor, often choosing students to opt for the institution closer to home.
- Some people’s transport choices were automatic, with one clear choice standing out; others were more considered- trialling different modes and weighing up the pros and cons of each; others were interdependent i.e. only one transport mode might be appropriate; whilst some, quite interestingly were, well- quite easy! as the preferred transport mode was what determined the choice of destination and not the other way around.
The RAC Foundation supports the DfT in their recommendation that young people’s views on transport must be listened to so that suitable improvements to provision can be made to meet their needs:
“Transport is both an enabler and a barrier to young peole’s access to employment, education and leisure” (DfT)
In addition, the DfT emphasise that if young people are educated about the environmental impacts of various transport modes then they will be able to make a better informed choice as to how they will travel.