Benefits of travel surveys

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1 January 2016 Benefits of travel surveys The result of a well-supported travel survey is probably the most important piece of evidence that you could have when writing a travel plan. It provides you with information on how your staff currently travel, why they choose to travel that way, and what may encourage or enable them to travel more sustainably. Conducting a travel survey allows you to focus time and other resources on interventions that are most likely to facilitate a change in behaviour, and avoids time and money potentially being wasted on schemes that would not have a significant impact. It will also help to build a business case for actions which will attract funding. What are you aiming for? How people travel is very specific to their personal circumstance (e.g. where they live) so you need data from enough staff for you to be able to be confident about choosing the most costeffective actions. Aim to get responses from over 25% of your staff if you can. As well as a high enough number of responses, you also need to be sure that you have a representative sample of employees. To do this you need to try and encourage responses from all areas of your organisation, not just from the sections that are most willing to participate (e.g. the Bicycle User Group, the Green Team, the department responsible for the survey). If you know the results you have represent a broad spectrum of workers then you can be more confident that the measures you put in place as a result will have an impact across the organisation. If there is a reason to believe that one group is over represented in the survey this isn t necessarily a problem, just keep it in mind when you are analysing the results. If your survey response is lower than you were aiming for at the closing date you may wish to consider extending the deadline to allow more people to take part, and think of some way of boosting the response rate. Better quality data that enables you to make more reliable and effective decisions will more than make up for a week or two in time-scales.

2 Top tips for getting a good response to your survey Here are some ideas to help you get the best response. Travel Choices has a number of tools which can help you with some of these, including an online survey with prize draw, and help in hosting events. Allow employees to complete the survey in works time. This will help reach a wider audience and if it helps achieve your objectives it will be worth the 15 minutes of their time. Incorporate it into any existing surveys. If you are already doing an annual staff satisfaction survey why make them fill out two surveys when you can add the travel questions into your other survey? Choose the right medium to make it as easy as possible to complete and analyse. E- mail office based staff a link to a web-based survey. In a retail or warehouse environment you may consider facilitating access to computers to enable non-desk based staff to complete the survey. Paper copies add a significant amount of time to the analysis, as the data has to be entered into a computer in order to process. If you do have to use paper surveys make sure they are easy to return. Have a secure post box in a busy place such as the exit or canteen. Set up the survey so the answers are anonymous and let your staff know this! Make it clear to staff why you are doing the survey - explain the potential benefits to them and the organisation of resultant actions with a short going out ahead of the survey, or posters at busy sites. Have an incentive such as a prize draw for people who participate, spot prizes, and/or a competition between departments for the highest response rate. Promote the survey and why you are doing it and allow people to interact with some of the ideas you are proposing. You could hold an event to give away cycling merchandise, have some bicycles for people to try, or have personal travel planning to allow people to look at the options available to them. Just be careful that the promotional activities are balanced so as not to skew participation to one particular group (e.g. lots of cycling promotion will attract cyclists and you may get results that are skewed towards them). Use case studies. If you know of another organisation that has done staff travel planning and had some good outcomes, let staff know about it so they can relate the survey to real examples of positive change.

3 Further information. Make sure employees know where to go for more information about travel planning and other ideas covered in the survey. Analysing Travel Survey Data Analysing the data that you get back from a travel surveys is challenging, but key to getting meaningful results. At this stage of the process a clearer understanding of your employees travel behaviour and attitudes towards various modes of transport begins to emerge. This information is essential for developing a well-informed travel action plan and the wrong analysis could lead to targets being set which are not possible to achieve. Before you start analysing the data it is worth considering who will carry out the task. Ideally you should identify someone who is familiar with the breadth of activity across the business and can take a strategic view on what the implications are. It is also useful to quickly check the data to make sure responses are sensible and don t contradict each other. If you are using Transport for Greater Manchester s online monitoring tool, a top line report will be produced for you containing bar graphs, pie charts and tables that can be used to construct your action plan. However if you are carrying out the survey for yourself or require further detail such as cross-tabulation, analysing the data will require familiarity with making simple calculations. These can be easily carried out in a statistics package such as Microsoft Excel, Google Docs or OpenOffice. This will help you to understand how your staff are currently travelling, identify barriers to taking up more sustainable travel options, and the actions that could encourage staff to change their current travel choice. You can use one of these programmes to perform most of the basic analysis required. In general terms, this analysis will include: Calculation of percentages for responses to each question Calculation of means and standard errors associated with the data

4 The production of charts and graphs to help communicate the survey finding. When analysing open text answers, it is often useful to structure the spreadsheet as a table with respondees down the side, and a limited number of categories of responses (or topics) across the top. Each answer from a respondent can be recorded as a 1 in the appropriate category column, and each column s totals summed at the bottom. This technique will also allow for cross-checking and further detailed analysis. Areas to focus on Analysis of the data will help you to highlight the most important issues to address when developing travel plan initiatives. In particular you should look to understand: What is the modal split for commuting to work; i.e. the percentage of staff travelling by each mode What the potential is for modal shift ; i.e. changing the way of travelling to a more sustainable option? You may wish to show how many of your staff live within a reasonable walking (3 kilometres) or cycling distance (5 kilometres). Are there clusters of employees living near to each other who could car share? How staff travel during business hours The barriers to increasing the level of sustainable travel and the measures that would encourage people to change to a different mode. This is essential for understanding the travel choices that people make. How attitudes differ by age, gender, location or job role. The reasons why employees use a particular mode of transport. Would these reasons encourage others to cycle to work or car share? Factors to consider when analysing data Is your data skewed? Look for a high-response rate from one group, such as a particular age group, or gender. This may mean your data overly represents a single grouping of individuals. You can check how representative the sample of the workforce is by asking Human Resources for a breakdown for the workplace

5 Has the season or weather affected your data? Cold or wet weather can reduce the numbers of people who are travelling by foot or bike, giving you an inaccurate picture of how your staff travel. Analysing data using a computer is much easier than doing it manually. Therefore you may wish to encourage respondents to complete the survey online. How does your data compare with other businesses in the same sector? Whilst no two workplaces are the same, it is worthwhile understanding how other businesses in your sector or location compare in terms of travel behaviour. Once you have completed your analysis and interpreted the results it is good practice to share the findings of the survey across the organisation. The analysis of your travel survey data in collaboration with your site audit will now allow you to start considering what actions could be taken to promote greater sustainable travel.

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