Publication of Travel Survey for Northern Ireland 2015-17 in depth report

Date published: 31 January 2019

The Travel Survey for Northern Ireland (TSNI) in-depth report, containing statistics for 2015-2017, is now available. The publication is produced by the Analysis, Statistics and Research Branch (ASRB) of the Department for Infrastructure and contains information on trends in personal travel for people living here, how they travel, why they travel and some of the other factors affecting travel.

DRD statistics publication

The publication is available on the ASRB website at:


The key points for 2015-2017 are:

Trends in personal travel

  • 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).
  • On average, there were 897 journeys made per person per year over the period 2015-2017, a decrease from 2005-2007 (929 journeys per person per year).
  • The average time each person spent travelling in 2015-2017 was 298 hours per year, less than in 2005-2007 (306 hours).
  • Looking at the 17 and over age group, a higher proportion of men (82%) held full car driving licences than women (72%) in 2015-2017.  Over the last ten years, there has been an increase in the proportion of women holding a car driving licence 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).
  • On average, urban residents made around the same number of journeys each year (901) as rural residents (892).  However, rural residents travelled further per year (7,192 miles) than urban residents (4,668 miles).

How people travel

  • 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.  The car was the dominant mode of transport (77%) for all journeys one mile or over.
  • In 2015-2017, the highest proportion of all journeys taken by walking, cycling or public transport was by residents of Belfast LGD (41%), followed by Derry City and Strabane LGD (33%).
  • Nearly one quarter (23%) of all respondents said they had cycled in the last 12 months.  Of these, almost half (46%) cycled once a week or more.
  • Just under two thirds (65%) of all respondents took a walk lasting at least 20 minutes once a week or more.
  • One sixth (17%) of all respondents travelled on a bus once a week or more.  Around 1 in 30 (3%) of all respondents travelled on a train once a week or more.
  • Urban residents made nearly double the number of walking journeys per year (210) that rural residents made (110).
  • Looking at car journeys as a proportion of all journeys, over three quarters (77%) of all rural residents’ journeys were by car, higher than for urban residents (65%).
  • 6% of the total journeys taken by people living in urban areas were on public transport, higher than people living in rural areas (4%).

Why people travel

  • In 2015-2017, 24% of all journeys were made for leisure purposes (visit friends at private home/elsewhere, entertainment/public social activities, take part in sports activities, holiday base, day trip), 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.
  • Looking only at single journey purposes, the most common reason for men making a journey was commuting (21%).  For women, the most popular reason for making a journey was for shopping (21%).  The most frequently given reason for journeys made by children under 16 was education (30%).
  • In 2015-2017, the majority of workers used a car or van to travel to work (80%), the same as 10 years ago (80% in 2005-2007).

Other factors affecting travel

  • Among the most popular incentives highlighted by cyclists that would encourage them to cycle more often were “more cycle lanes” (37%), “better weather” (33%), “cycle lanes separated from roads” (33%), “more pleasant cycling routes” (28%) and “safer cycling routes” (28%).
  • When asked what would encourage them to walk more often, the top answer given was “better weather” stated by 37% of the respondents, followed by “time of year” (17%), “better lighting on footpaths at night” (16%) and “more pleasant footpaths” (15%).
  • Respondents were asked what would encourage them to use local public transport services more often and the most popular answer, given by one quarter (25%) of respondents, was “cheaper fares”.  This was followed by “more frequent weekend services” (17%), “more destinations or routes” (16%), “more frequent evening services” (16%) and “more frequent day services” (15%).
  • Fifteen percent of households said that they would be able to get a bus from their nearest bus stop every 15 minutes, an increase from 10% in 2005-2007.  Three in ten households (30%) said they did not know how often they could get a bus from their nearest stop.
  • Urban households tend to have a shorter time to walk to the nearest bus stop.  Just under 16 in 20 (79%) urban households lived within a 6 minute walk of their nearest bus stop whereas for rural households this went down to 9 in 20 (45%).

Notes to editors: 

Background to TSNI 2015-2017 In-depth Report

The Travel Survey for Northern Ireland (TSNI) is a household survey and is the only source of information on how, over the region as a whole, people use different forms of transport to meet their travel needs as individuals. Only journeys within the north of Ireland are included.

TSNI reports are published annually and the earliest data available is for the 1999-2001 period.  This is the second of the two reports to be published covering the 2015-2017 reporting period.  A headline report (containing key figures) was published in July 2018.  This in-depth report contains more detailed analysis on journeys taken by a representative sample of the population over the time period 2015-2017 (including breakdowns by age and gender) and more trend comparisons with earlier years.  It also includes, for the first time, information and charts that were previously published in the Urban-Rural Report, which contained key travel statistics comparing urban and rural areas.

Official Statistics

This is a National Statistics publication and therefore follows the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.  You can find further information about the Code of Practice at:

Further Information

For further information please contact:

Analysis, Statistics and Research Branch
Department for Infrastructure
Clarence Court
10-18 Adelaide Street
Belfast BT2 8GB
  • Tel (press enquiries): 028 9054 0007
  • Tel (public enquiries): 028 9054 0799 (Text relay prefix 18001)
  • E-mail:


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