Experience of accessibility indicators in practice

There are long-standing examples of accessibility indicators in many countries (eg regeneration in Germany, land use planning in The Netherlands). This discussion concentrates on the recent experience of indicator development in the UK which sought to draw from longstanding international practice (Scottish Executive 2000a; SEU 2003) and establish a culture of accessibility measurement at national, regional and local levels across the country. Interest in accessibility indicators continues to grow in Europe and the USA and many of the same issues have emerged as are found in the UK experience. The UK has made very substantial progress with:

·         accessibility indicators agreed between government departments[4]

·         regional and local indicators developed through working partnerships.

At all levels, data availability is one of the most important constraints. The selection of indicators is a balance between the optimal representation of accessibility problems and the data which is readily available, or can easily be collected.

Table 3.2 shows the indicators in England covering education, health, employment and shopping trip purposes. The lack of indicators covering leisure trips is addressed in Wales where there is a wider range of trip purposes to sports and leisure facilities, but in Scotland only education, health and shopping are included.

The measures each have a target group at the origin and use both threshold and continuous deterrence functions for travel time. The thresholds set in the stepped deterrence functions are based on the distribution of observed travel time from the national travel survey (DHC 2004). The continuous functions are based on a ‘Hansen’ indicator (Hansen 1959) which uses a negative exponential distribution in the deterrence function.

Table 3.2      Accessibility indicators published for neighbourhoods in England

Destination definition

Population group from Pupil Level Annual School Census data

Travel time indicator from each residence to each destination category

Indicator showing number of people within defined travel time of a destination and choice of opportunities within defined travel time of each residence location

Modes

Deterrence function

Threshold (mins)

Contin-uous-

Lower

Upper

PT/ walk

Cycle

Car

Primary school

Compulsory school age children (5–10 years)

Ö

15

30

Ö

Ö

 

Ö

Children (5–10 years) getting free school meals

15

30

Ö

Ö

 

Ö

Secondary school

Compulsory school age children (11–15 years)

Ö

20

40

Ö

Ö

Ö

Ö

Children (11–15 years) getting free school meals

20

40

Ö

Ö

Ö

Ö

Further education –college

Population aged 16–19 years

Ö

30

60

Ö

Ö

Ö

Ö

Employees in each COA(a) (no.)

Population of working age (16–74 years)

Ö

20

40

Ö

Ö

Ö

Ö

Population in receipt of jobseekers’ allowance

20

40

Ö

Ö

Ö

Ö

Hospitals with an outpatient department as defined by Department for Transport UK (DfT)

Households

Ö

30

60

Ö

Ö

 

Ö

Households without access to a car

30

60

Ö

Ö

 

Ö

General Practitioners as defined by DfT

Household working age population (16–74 years)

Ö

15

30

Ö

Ö

 

Ö

Households without access to a car

15

30

Ö

Ö

 

Ö

Supermarket

Households

Ö

15

30

Ö

Ö

Ö

Ö

Households without access to a car

15

30

Ö

Ö

Ö

Ö

Note: (a) Census output area

 

This process generates 59 destination indicators and 38 origin indicators with multiple thresholds being published for each of these:

·         The destination indicators describe the number of people in the specified catchment, eg 10,000 households within 30 minutes of a hospital and are published for local authority and transport authority areas and at a national level.

·         The origin indicators describe the choice of options available from each origin location, eg 15,000 jobs within 60 minutes and are published for each residential location.

A broad-based analysis has also been used nationally in England to compare access by car with access by public transport and walking, but the analysis is not monitored. However, the ratios of car to public transport accessibility show the locations where public transport improvements have the greatest potential benefits to improving accessibility for both car and non-car available trips, and to identify locations where public transport is unlikely to be competitive for car-owning households.

These national travel time-based indicators are limited by the national data but a much wider range of indicators has been used at a local level including:

·         community or social outcomes – standards of accessibility to be defined in absolute terms based on an assessment of society’s expectations of basic needs

·         comparative measures – compare the distribution of access opportunities by people group and location

·         stated perceptions – people’s views often reveal needs which have not been identified or measured using other techniques.

Local indicators include the:

·         frequency with which each service is accessed (expressed need)

·         consequences of the person not being able to access the services (social need)

·         concerns of the affected groups about not being able to access the services (stated need)

·         importance for equity of some people not having access (comparative need).

A selection of these indicators is shown in table 3.3. Each regional and local authority has established their own range of indicators and national government monitors local performance as much from the local indicators as the national ones. The examples in the table are not consistent across the UK but illustrate the range of indicators currently being used. As authorities develop their accessibility plans and establish data collection mechanisms it is anticipated that reliance on the local indicators will grow relative to the national core indicators.

Table 3.3      Local indicators in accessibility planning

Indicator

Uses

% of population able to reach city centre in 30 minutes

Core indicator to monitor impact of additional bus routes to city centre facilities and services

Number of daily bus journeys to city/ town centre

Monitor changes in bus use to access facilities and services

Number of pedestrian journeys into the town centre/ hospital/ school

Monitor impact of improvements to pedestrian environment, eg improved street lighting

% total bus network served (by vehicle mile) by fully accessible low floor vehicles

Intermediate indicator to monitor progress in target to implement fully accessible low floor vehicles on whole network

Number of bus stops and transport interchanges which meet good practice standards for access by disabled people

Intermediate indicator to monitor progress with target

% of passengers satisfied with bus service (reliability, safety, information, condition, etc)

Monitor impact of improvements, eg improved reliability, information, bus stops

Number of referrals to traffic commissioner of bus reliability problems arising from complaints from users

Intermediate indicator to monitor bus service reliability.

% of jobseekers citing transport as a barrier to employment

Monitor the consequences of changes to transport provision.

% of young people with access to public transport in the evenings and at weekends

Core indicator of access at these times

Cost of bus fare per mile to x destination relative to equivalent petrol cost and taxi fare

Monitor relative affordability of public transport services

Take-up of non-statutory concessionary fares by job seekers/young people/carers/etc

Monitor impact of non-statutory concessionary fare interventions

% of bus stops with travel information displays

Monitor access to information

% job centres/GP surgeries/in receipt of travel information

Is information available in pictogram/different languages/ Braille/Minicom? Yes/No

Take up of the hospital travel costs scheme by low-income groups including activity on publicising scheme to these groups

% of hospitals offering travel information service to patients and visitors

Accessibility of unemployed residents to regeneration areas (the DfT economic impact reporting accessibility measure)

Monitoring accessibility of new job opportunities for targeted groups

% of population able to access the internet and use a credit card to order home food deliveries

Inform policy on the effectiveness of home delivery systems

Number of incidents recorded on public transport

Monitor effectiveness of measures to reduce crime and fear of crime on and around public transport

Proportion of people who feel unsafe walking in their neighbourhood at night

Monitor effectiveness of reducing fear of crime