Research into Travel Horizons and Its Subsequent Influence on Accessibility Planning and Demand Responsive Transport Strategies in Greater Manchester

Research into Travel Horizons and Its Subsequent Influence on Accessibility Planning and Demand Responsive Transport Strategies in Greater Manchester


K Morris, Halcrow Group Ltd, UK; N Hallett, Greater Manchester PTE, UK


Research into travel horizons and travel priorities in three deprived areas of Greater Manchester and how this has influenced policy development.


In February 2003 the Social Exclusion Unit produced its report ?Making the Connection? which highlighted that access to services has a direct impact on social inclusion. In response to the findings and recommendations of this report accessibility planning is now at the forefront of the development of transport schemes and the aim of achieving ?Access for all?. The SEU report identified strong links between a number of key barriers and social inclusion including the concept of ?limited travel horizons?. This referenced to findings such as the average distance to work for people on low incomes is three miles compared with eight for the general population, inferring that those on lower incomes may be less willing to travel than other sectors of the population.

Greater Manchester PTE (GMPTE) is currently developing a number of policy documents to supplement their LTP2, including their Accessibility Strategy and Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) Strategy. To better understand how travel horizons influence transport choices, GMPTE appointed Halcrow to undertake detailed research into travel horizons and travel priorities in a number of deprived areas in Greater Manchester. This paper summarises the findings of this research and the influence it has had in developing policies within the Greater Manchester area.

Travel Horizons can be defined as the distance or location that people feel able to travel to when accessing key facilities. The emphasis of the research was therefore to:

? identify and understand people?s travel horizons;
? establish how far and by what means people are prepared to travel;
? understand what determines people?s travel horizons; and
? identify how demographic characteristics can influence the priorities placed on accessing key facilities and services.

When tackling accessibility problems the DfT has focussed on access to healthcare, shopping, employment and learning. However it is recognised that people may wish to travel to a much wider range of facilities in order to obtain ?quality of life?. The aim of this research was to better understand where people want to travel to and how they prioritise this.

The main research focused on three deprived areas in Greater Manchester, with varying characteristics, taking the form of in-depth household interviews and focus groups. The interviews included collecting data on existing travel patterns and the priority placed on accessing a variety of facilities, together with the use of a number of travel scenarios to better understand the influences on individual?s travel options. Issues covered in the interview were then probed in greater depth through the focus groups.

The research into access priorities found that they are influenced by factors such as personal circumstances, age, ethnic origin and economic status. However, regardless of these variances similar importance emerged in accessing a corner shop for food shopping, the Post Office and visiting friends and family.

A number of factors can impact on the decision making process that influences the individual?s travel horizon and the subsequent decision on that journey. The key factors identified were:

? distance;
? time;
? cost;
? journey purpose;
? requirement to interchange;
? personal circumstances; and
? safety and security implications.

The analysis identified that these factors on their own may not directly affect an individual?s travel horizons but when combined can contribute to the decision making process, thereby identifying that travel horizons are based on a rational decision making process. The research identified that factors can vary between people, trip type and journey frequency as well as more general factors such as age, economic status and personal circumstances.

The research identified that some factors that influence travel horizons can be directly influenced by transport policies and initiatives such as bus routing, frequency and reliability and constraints such as operator ticketing regimes and prices. Other influences were not wholly attributable to transport/service provision, but were a function of associated factors such as the need to travel with small children or the type of journey being undertaken.

The research identified a clear basis for the establishment of travel horizons and how transport policy could help to influence travel behaviour. It also identified that people have clear priorities in terms of access to facilities and in turn the priorities that should be adopted in GMPTE?s accessibility strategy.

The findings of the research had a direct influence on the development of priorities and policies within the two strategy documents including:

? the inclusion of other destinations, in addition to the Government top four, in relation to accessibility planning targets. Importance has been placed on accessing friends and family, the corner shop, financial institutions and the Post Office. As a result indicators have been set for ' those within 30 minutes of a major interchange' as this allows for access to wider areas;
? the study provided little support for the view the travel horizons of people in deprived areas are constrained by a limited outlook. Any constraints are financial or practical and accessibility planning needs to focus on these; and
? the study has provided useful input into the DRT strategy, particularly in relation to interchange and the type of destinations to which DRT should provide access.


Association for European Transport