Largest north east travel study results revealed

Lucy Johnston2023, News

The largest ever study of travel in the north east has shed light on how and why we choose to get around the area.

Earlier this year, Nestrans commissioned a Comprehensive Travel Study, talking to over 1,000 residents across the region to gain valuable insights into travel behaviours in the north east. The study aims to develop a better understanding of travel patterns, barriers and identify gaps in knowledge, particularly with regards to equalities and social inclusion impacts.

The study has revealed some interesting insights into the travel behaviour of the people living in the north east. Here are some key findings:

Ways of travelling

Of those surveyed:

  • 91% of people walk at least weekly, and two thirds walked every day;
  • 90% of people use a car, van or motorbike at least weekly;
  • 43% had access to a pedal bike or e-bike;
  • 25% in Aberdeen City used a bus at least once a week, compared to 12% in Aberdeenshire;
  • 12% have no access to a car.


Travel to Work

Of those surveyed who worked:

  • Main mode of travel for work is car, but it varies between City and Aberdeenshire residents. 69% in the city and 85% in Aberdeenshire;
  • 48% in Aberdeenshire travel over 20km to work compared to 19% in the city;
  • 34% in the city work from home at least once per week, compared to 44% in Aberdeenshire;
  • 58% travelled to work at least five days per week;
  • Most Aberdeen residents work in Aberdeen itself. Only 8% travel to Aberdeenshire for work, while almost 4 in 10 of Aberdeenshire residents surveyed travel to work in Aberdeen.


Active Travel

Of those surveyed:

  • 13% of Aberdeenshire residents used a pedal bike at least once a week, and in Aberdeen City this was 9% weekly;
  • One in five respondents felt walking to work (19%) or cycling to work (15%) was possible.
  • Focus groups highlighted that a lack of bike lanes in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire (excluding Peterhead) were providing a barrier to those who would be interested in cycling.


Public Transport

  • 62% of those surveyed who use the bus are satisfied or very satisfied with their experience;
  • Focus groups highlighted concerns with reliability of buses and a desire to see more express/direct bus routes introduced;
  • 78% of those who worked used a car but almost half of residents in large urban areas felt they could switch to public transport.


Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation

  • 5% of north east residents live in most deprived areas.

These residents are:

    • Less likely to have access to a car;
    • Less likely to hold a full driving license;
    • More likely to use a bus; and
    • More likely to use a taxi.


The research took place between April and May this year, with the information gathered from telephone interviews and bolstered by focus groups and in-depth interviews to get a better understanding of the real-life stories behind the data.

Councillor Alan Turner, chair of Nestrans said, “The study has provided valuable insight into the travel patterns and preferences of people living in the north east. By pinpointing these factors, why we choose to travel in a particular way, or the barriers that prevent us from making a change, we can better inform projects and policies that create travel infrastructure that meets the needs of our communities.

“The findings will support Nestrans and partners in directing future projects and study activity, in support of funding bids, and promotional work, particularly around travel behaviour change. We’re grateful to those who gave their time to talk to our survey team during interviews and focus groups.”

Understanding the region’s travel patterns and trends is an important part of measuring the progress of the Regional Transport Strategy (RTS).  It allows Nestrans to track the effectiveness of its policies and interventions against what the Strategy sets out to achieve. Nestrans can also use the monitoring data to adjust, if necessary, so that better progress can be made towards targets.

The research will be shared extensively with regional and national partners, including Transport Scotland, our local authorities and neighbouring Regional Transport Partnerships, and the many other stakeholders and groups with whom we consult, including the North East Bus Alliance, and members of the North East Transport Consultative Forum.

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