Key points

Relating to the adequacy of bus services

  • Among households without a car, two-fifths describe the local bus service as failing to meet their needs for travel to the town centre or the shops while two thirds say it does not meet the need for travel to the hospital.  Among households with a car, the proportion in each of these cases is higher still.
  • Almost all households – 90% – and irrespective of whether they have car, say that the bus service does not meet the need either for travel at night or travel on Sundays.
  • Local bus services do not meet the need for weekday travel for the majority in any part of Wales.  Support for the view that local bus services do not meet weekday travel needs is highest in the Valleys, at 80%.  At the same time, the proportion of people with daily access to a car is lowest in the Valleys, at 55%. 1
  • The 2004 ‘Living in Wales’ survey included a question about satisfaction with public transport.  Although levels of satisfaction were much higher than suggested by the 2004 Welsh Consumer Council Survey, the geographic pattern was similar: high levels of dissatisfaction in rural areas (Powys, Ceredigion, Monmouthshire and Carmarthenshire) and some Valleys authorities (Rhondda Cynon Taff and Blaenau Gwent). 2
  • Women are the primary users of bus services.  56% of women are frequent or occasional users of buses, compared to 39% of men. 3
  • For both men and women, satisfaction with the local bus services has fallen between 2002 and 2004. 4
  • People often use a form of transport due to lack of alternatives rather than choice.  Four-fifths of bus users in Wales would prefer to travel by car. 5
  • Bus service costs have risen by 31% over the last 20 years. 6  Since 1991, the cost per passenger journey has increased more in Wales than in other parts of Great Britain. 7

Relating to levels of car ownership

  • Levels of car ownership are closely linked with the age and number of adults in the households.  Thus, fewer than a tenth of working-age couples lack a car, and only a fifth of pensioner couples.  By contrast, half of lone parents lack a car and two thirds of single pensioners.  The great majority of these latter two groups are women.
  • The proportion of working-age households without a car varies from 26% in Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent to 10% in Monmouthshire and Powys.
  • Unlike the use of a car for work, car ownership among working-age households is usually quite a lot higher in rural areas, although again Gwynedd is an exception.  Car ownership is lowest in the major cities and in the Valleys.
  • Physical access to public transport is a major area of concern for older people, people with a disability and people with an illness.  Many services are not viewed as having been adapted for people with mobility problems. 8

Relating to cars and work

  • The proportion of working households where at least one person drives to work is high in every local authority area, ranging from 73% in Cardiff to 86% in Flintshire.  This suggests that a car is regarded as very important for work everywhere in Wales.
  • Although car usage for work is usually higher in rural local authorities, there are exceptions, notably Gwynedd (76%) which is towards the bottom.  Although the major cities are also towards the bottom of the range, one of them (Swansea) still has a higher rate than Ceredigion or Gwynedd.  The distinction between urban and rural at the local authority level is therefore not wholly clear-cut.
  • Two-thirds of those working-age people who are unemployed or economically inactive but seeking work have no daily access to a car.  By contrast, only one in eight of those in full-time work have no daily access to a car.
  • Among those working part-time, the great majority of whom are women, one third lack daily access to a car while two third have it.

Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows the proportion of people for whom the bus is adequate across a range of needs. The data is split to show those with and without cars separately. Survey respondents were asked whether, as far as they knew, the local bus service met their need for each of the categories stated.

The second graph shows how the proportion of people who think that their local bus services do not meet the need for weekday travel for the majority varies in different parts of Wales.

The third graph shows the proportion of households who do not have access to either a car or van, with the data shown separately for each major type of household.

The fourth graph shows the proportion of households in each local authority without a car, against the proportion of working-age adults in each local authority where at least one person in the household drives to work.

The fifth graph shows the proportions of people in each employment category who personally drive and have daily access to a car, and those who do not.

The data source for the first, second and fifth graphs is a March 2004 survey carried out by Beaufort Research of Cardiff on behalf the Welsh Consumer Council (the data is not publicly available).

The data source for the third and fourth graphs is the 2001 Census (table so062 and so118).

Overall adequacy: medium. The Welsh Omnibus Survey is a well-established survey designed to be representative of the population resident in Wales aged 16 and over but is based on a small sample.

External links

See the 2006 report jointly published by the Welsh Consumer Council and Equal Opportunities Commission in Wales entitled Gender and bus travel in Wales.

1. Omnibus Survey for Wales, Welsh Consumer Council, 2004.
2. Living in Wales, 2004 and Omnibus Survey for Wales, Welsh Consumer Council, 2004.
3. Omnibus Survey for Wales, Welsh Consumer Council, 2004. In gender and bus travel in Wales – a report from the Welsh Consumer Council and the Equal Opportunities Commission in Wales, 2006.
4. Omnibus Survey for Wales, Welsh Consumer Council, 2004.  In gender and bus travel in Wales – a report from the Welsh Consumer Council and the Equal Opportunities Commission in Wales, 2006.
5. Bus travel in Wales, Welsh Consumer Council, 2001.
6. 10 year transport plan, 2003.
7. Transport Statistics Wales 2004.
8. People without cars, Welsh Consumer Council, 2004.