Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Lies, Damn Lies and Transport Assessment Statistics

(chart legend; orange colums are % fans arriving by car, purple columns are % fans driving to stadium)

What the chart above shows are the results of four surveys. The surveys asked football fans how they travel to watch football; from left to right they are;

1) a survey completed in 2006/07 of supporters in the Premier League,
2) a survey completed in 2008 of supporters in the Football League,
3) a survey completed in 2008 of Bristol City fans.
4) the figures taken from the 2009 Transport Assessment provided to support Bristol City's application for a new stadium at Ashton Vale.

In the chart above the orange columns show the total number of people who will travel by car (i.e both drivers and passengers) whilst the purple columns show car drivers only (and thus the number of cars that need to find parking).

You can see that for the first three columns the ratio between the number of cars and the number of people travelling by car is consistent. The pattern is that the more people who travel by car, the more cars there are - which is simple common sense. It also shows that, just as in many other situations, most of the cars are occupied only by a driver, with every third or fourth car also carrying a passenger - this is shown more clearly in the chart below which shows the ratio between car drivers and car passengers.

(ratio of car passengers to car drivers)

It is only when you get to the final set of figures that we see a totally different pattern. In this scenario, even through an even higher percentage of people are predicted to travel to the new Ashton Vale stadium by car, the number of car drivers (and thus cars) will apparently drop by about 40% in terms of share because every car driver will be taking 1.6 passengers compared to to a ratio of 3 or 4 drivers to every passenger in the other surveys.

The Transport Officers responsible for determining whether the Transport Assessment provided by the developers was robust concluded that the disparity between it and the other fans survey was explained by the fact that "the survey of existing fans would have overestimated the number of drivers relative to passengers who in many cases will be children".

For this statement to be valid, you will have to accept the premise that most of the difference in passenger numbers between the fans surveys and the transport assessment is made up of children. This adds up to almost a third of all supporters. In fact the percentage that are children would have to be even higher because 7% of the Football League Fan Survey responses (despite the officer comment above) were actually from U-16s, and thus are already represented. In other words the contention is that roughly 40% of those who attend football matches are under-16 - yet the Football League Fan Survey indicates that less than 25% of fans attend matches with their children or grandchildren.

Having already accepted that the number of cars will constitute a much lower proportion than common sense and regular experience for those living in the Ashton Gate area implies, the transport officers then go further and say that if a robust travel plan is implemented the number of fans driving their own cars will drop to 26%. This will be done by generating a greater use of public transport so that the percentage of fans using public transport will jump from 8% to 13% - oh, and each car driver will now deliver 2 passengers so that the ratio of drivers to passengers becomes even further removed from the results of the fan surveys.

To put this claim into perspective, let's review the evidence from the city of Dortmund in Germany. Dortmund was chosen as a host city for World Cup 2006. As a host city it committed (as Bristol has done at an estimated cost of approx £2m) to providing free public transport for all ticket holders attending matches in the 65,000 seat local stadium. The result was a great success with 55% of fans using public transport to get to the stadium (compared to the 13% target mentioned above). As a result of this the number of cars driven to the stadium was reduced to just 13,500 - or to put it another way, 21% of fans, despite being offered free public transport, still drove. Yet here in Bristol despite a "robust" travel plan that will only increase public transport use to 13%, we nonetheless expect only 26% of fans to drive, only 5 percentage points difference.

I am not the only one with concerns regarding the transport assessment.

Bob Cole, a director of eo consulting ltd with over 30 years of transport planning and civil engineering experience, was requested by one of the local groups (AVHG) concerned about the impact of the new stadium to review the transport issues related to the new stadium proposal. He reviewed issues concerning car driver and passenger trips, stadium attendance, bus travel, and car parking and expressed significant concerns about the adequacy and robustness of the proposed traffic mitigation measures.

"The consequence of these inadequacies is a high level of risk in terms of matchday traffic management, which will fall mainly to the council to resolve"

going on to say that;

"Experience elsewhere suggests that unless substantive amendments are made to the current AGP proposal there are likely to be significant operational impacts on the transport network on matchdays, with a major impact on the local residential and business community."

and that even with the car figures used in the transport assessment that some 2,000 of the proposed off-street parking is not guaranteed and that even this figure is based only on an average attendance of 23,500 and thus liable to even further increase in uncontrolled parking for capacity attendances. As a result, some 7,000 cars could end up looking to park on-street in those areas not protected by a match-day residents parking zone - and this is based on a Transport Assessment which may well seriously underestimate the number of cars.

He concludes;

"The officer report of 4 November agrees that the ‘initial ideas’ set out in the Travel Plan ‘need further development, certainty and a broader scope’. Despite further discussions, the report for 10 February 2010 reinforces the view that these measures are not yet robust or certain, they remain ideas. This is not a sound basis for giving consent to a 30,000 seater stadium and could not realistically form enforceable planning conditions or be part of any Section 106 Agreement."

"Experience elsewhere shows that it will be the council that will be faced with having to rectify the matchday travel problems, to the disbenefit of local communities and other road users."

Update: I have been informed by my colleague from Dortmund that I had used the wrong figures for the stadium capacity and number of cars driven to the games held there - these have now been corrected from a 60,000 capacity and 9,000 cars to 65,000 capacity and 13,500 cars thus making the 21% figure sensible.

1 comment:

  1. Tony. Have you factored in the Portishead Rail Link? Helen Holland said in her speech to the Planning Ctte. "the Club have accepted the issues around facilitating the BRT, Portishead Rail Link, and better use of the Park and Ride." Now I was under the impression there were no plans to use the Portishead line, so has Helen got it wrong or me? Its one of the few things that would get people out of their cars don't you think?