On the Move: Attitudes to Transport in Northern Ireland

Author(s): Liz Fawcett
Document Type: Chapter
Year: 2002
Title of Publication: Social Attitudes in Northern Ireland The Eighth Report
Editor(s): Ann Marie Gray, Katrina Lloyd, Paula Devine, Gillian Robinson and Deirdre Heenan
Publisher: Pluto Press
Place of Publication: London
ISBN: 0 7453 1911 4
Pages: 87-101
Subject Area(s): Environment, Transport

Abbreviations: NI - Northern Ireland, NILT - Northern Ireland Life and Times

Background to the Research

  • There are a number of features of transport policy and behaviour in NI which set it apart from the rest of the United Kingdom. Among the most significant is the fact that most public transport in NI is still in the public sector, unlike in Britain where private companies run most bus and rail services
  • In NI, the largest share of the public funding available for transport has tended to go on roads, rather than on public transport, in the past few years and there has been much less integration of sustainable transport and land use planning policies in NI. In addition, widespread violence during the 'Troubles' contributed to segregated residential patterns which may well have made it difficult to operate an efficient and cost-effective public transport system in certain areas.
  • All of these factors have meant that NI has become a very car-dependent society.
  • This chapter examines public attitudes and behaviours to transport in NI and compares these findings with results found by a simialr survey in Britain.

Research Approach

  • The data used by the author come from the 1999 NILT survey which began in 1998 and is carried out annually.
  • Each year, interviews are carried out with a random selection of adults (aged 18 years and over) who live in private households in NI.
  • The sample size for the 1999 NILT survey was 2,200 - although some modules were asked of only half the sample.
  • Half the sample were asked the questions on transport.
  • A number of the same questions were also included in the 1998 and 1999 British Social Attitudes surveys, thus allowing for comparisons with Britain.

Main Findings

  • Just over three quarters (76%) of respondents in NI say they, or someone in their household, has the use of a car or van compared with 81% in Britain.
  • However, while 73% of car drivers in NI say they travel by car every day or nearly every day, the figure for Britain is lower at 64%.
  • 59% of respondents living in rural areas of NI say they drive a car every day or nearly every day, compared to 46% of those living in urban areas.
  • Only 1% of respondents in NI chose 'improving transport' as the most important policy issue for the Assembly to deal with.
  • 43% of respondents feel that it is true that 'the amount of traffic on the roads is one of the most serious problems in NI'.
  • A higher proportion of respondents feel that these problems are more serious in urban areas than in rural areas.
  • 38% of respondents believe that 'increased traffic volumes on country roads and lanes' is a serious problem, while 33% believe that congestion on motorways is a serious problem.
  • 23% of respondents in NI compared with 10% in Britain say that bus services are not available near where they live.
  • Similarly, 29% of those in NI and only 13% in Britain feel that buses stop too far away from their home.
  • Just over half (53%) of respondents in NI agree that their local buses 'generally cost too much' while a similar proportion (51%) feel that buses in their area 'generally do not run often enough'.
  • The majority of respondents in NI (59%) say that their local buses are generally clean and tidy and that these buses take people to where they mostly need to go (62%). 45% also agree that buses serving their neighbourhood are safe to travel in after dark.
  • 57% of respondents feel it is important to reduce the number of cars on the roads in NI.
  • 58% of car drivers say they might use their cars less if fares for local public transport were halved, and the same proportion say they might use their cars less if the cost of petrol was gradually doubled over the next ten years.
  • 55% say they might use their car less if congestion charging for driving through a city or town centre was introduced and 56% say that they might use their cars less if the reliability of local public transport was improved.
  • Three out of five (60%) respondents in NI feel it would be too inconvenient to give up using a car for the sake of the environment.
  • 57% of all respondents feel the NI Assembly should have tax varying powers and of these, 57% say they would be prepared to pay a penny more in income tax to finance improvements in public transport.



Home | About ORB | Contact

Disclaimer: © ORB 2001Tuesday, 12-Apr-2005 11:47