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Car usage in Scotland rises as public transport journeys fall

Drivers in Scotland remain wedded to their cars, with usage of public transport showing a slight decline.

Two-thirds of commuters said that they travelled to work by car or van in 2018

The latest Scottish Transport Statistics publication released today shows that the number of journeys being made by public transport in Scotland fell 1.5% in 2018/19, from 525 million a year earlier to 517 million.

Bus journeys, which accounted for 380 million journeys – 73% of the total public transport journeys, fell by 2% and are down 10% over the past five years.

Train usage remained static compared to 2017/18, with 97.8 million passenger journeys on ScotRail services in 2018/19; an increase of 13% compared with 5 years ago, but the same as in 2017/18.

Over the same period, motor traffic has continued to increase. The number of motor vehicles registered in Scotland (3.0 million) is at an all-time high and the distance driven by motor vehicles on roads increased by 10% over the past five years to reach 47.8 billion vehicle kilometres in 2018.

According to the figures, two-thirds of commuters said that they travelled to work by car or van in 2018, 12% walked, 10% went by bus, 6% took a train and 3% cycled.

The figures follow last week’s publication of RAC data showing more than a third (35%) of UK drivers are more dependent on using their car than a year ago; with public transport increasingly seen as too expensive and unreliable to be a viable alternative.

However, the Scottish Transport Statistics research did identify a rise in cycling; the overall distance cycled on the Scottish road network was up by 8% from 2017 to 313 million vehicle kilometres in 2018.

Air and ferry services saw moderate rises. There were 29.4 million air passengers at Scottish airports in 2018, an increase of 2% in the last year and 27% over the past 5 years.

The resarch also revealed there were 10.3 million passengers on ferry services in 2018 (including traffic within Scotland and to and from Northern Ireland) in 2018 – a 0.2% increase on the previous year.

To access the statistics, click here.

For more of the latest industry news, click here.

Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.