Northern Ireland travel survey: Sisters are driving for themselves


The latest national travel survey for Northern Ireland shows a nation travelling less and making little progress on sustainable travel, while the proportion of women driving is increasing.

Car journeys accounted for 70% of all journeys made in 2015-2017, the same as 10 years ago. On average they were just over 7 miles long, according to the Travel Survey for Northern Ireland 2015-17.


There was even a slight increase in the proportion of adults (aged 17 and over) holding a full car driving licence from 71% to 76% - comparing 2005-2007 to 2015-2017 - and a higher proportion of households have access to a car 79% compared to 75%.

In 2015-2017, 80% of workers used a car or van to travel to work, the same as 10 years ago.

This is despite 15% of households being able to get a bus from their nearest bus stop every 15 minutes, an increase from 10% in 2005-2007. Although 30% said they did not know how often they could get a bus from their nearest stop.

Interestingly the survey suggests a significant rise in women holding drivers' licences. Over the last 10 years, the proportion of women holding a car driving licence rose from 62% in 2005-2007 to 72% in 2015-2017.

Whereas there has been no real change in the proportion of men holding a licence during this time period (80% in 2005-2007, 82% in 2015-2017).

And while a higher proportion of men (82%) held full car driving licences than women (72%) in 2015-2017, this relied largely on the older generations. Women actually held more driving licences than men in the 17-29 age group.

A total of 2,875 households and 5,492 persons were interviewed over the time period 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2017.

Key facts:

  • On average, each person travelled 5,653 miles per year during 2015-2017. This is a decrease from the average distance travelled per person per year in 2005-2007 (5,999 miles).
  • In 2015-2017, 70% of all journeys were made by car, 19% by walking, 5% by public transport (Ulsterbus, Metro, Other Bus, Northern Ireland Railways, Black Taxi) and 1% by cycling.
  • Nearly one sixth (16%) of all journeys were less than one mile long, and just under two thirds (66%) of these short journeys were on foot.  
  • In 2015-2017, 24% of all journeys were made for leisure purposes, 17% for shopping, 16% for commuting and 13% for personal business. Shopping has decreased from 21% of all journeys in 2005-2007 to 17% of all journeys in 2015-2017.
  • Popular incentives to cycling include “more cycle lanes” (37%), 'better weather' (33%), 'cycle lanes separated from roads' (33%), 'more pleasant cycling routes' (28%) and 'safer cycling routes' (28%).

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