“TRACC has saved us significant amounts of money and improved our internal process and accuracy of analysis”
Bethan Grinham, Head of Vehicle & Administrative Statistics, DfT
The UK Department for Transport (DfT) have been developing and publishing journey time statistics for over 10 years giving a unique annual view of how accessibility in Great Britain has changed, and how population and transport changes have affected this. These present travel times from where people live to eight key local services including schools, hospitals, supermarkets and employment centres broken down by small geographical areas in England. They cover journeys travelled by walking, cycling, driving and public transport and these journey times are supplemented with connectivity reports to see how easy it is for some to access an airport or railway station. Since 2015, the DfT have been using TRACC to produce these statistics themselves, work which had previously been outsourced to a contractor.
The DfT’s accessibility statistics are an essential input to key infrastructure decisions and provide required evidence for access to services for local government, transport planners, developers, small businesses and internally for the DfT. When looking at new development sites they deliver high level insight into the provision of transport links to essential services such as the closest school. They cover all of England with an extensive scale of calculations looking at over 170,000 origins based on around 82,000 destinations giving millions of results that can be analysed
Rachel Moyce, a Higher Statistical Officer at the DfT, explains “We use TRACC to produce journey times from small areas to various key service destinations – we can then use these to calculate average times at higher geographies, and for rural/urban areas. Once we have the times, we can also calculate the population that can reach a destination in half an hour, an hour etc.”
The statistics are published online making them accessible to all and have proved particularly valuable for Local Transport Planners to monitor the average journey times to key services by Local Authority. By using TRACC they have brought this process internal to the Department and taken control of the data. They now have more confidence in the results and can provide more specific analysis for users. DfT have been able to deliver more detailed statistics and greater insights exploring new areas including drive time responses to incidents that were not previously possible.
TRACC provides the DfT with a useful system for storing the variety of information they collect and running analysis in one place saving a significant amount of time and even resources. Bethan explains, “Using TRACC we now have the flexibility to test different model assumptions and traffic speeds in a way that wasn’t previously possible and can do ad hoc runs outside of the scope of our regular journey time statistics.”
TRACC is being used far more regularly by the DfT and Rachel can see even more use of the software in the future as many other departments are showing an interest in this type of data. The ability to look at connectivity across major transport hubs and networks shows the broad value of these statistics. TRACC is constantly being updated and improved and Rachel has seen the benefits of these new releases, “We’ve been using TRACC since the first Beta release, and it has definitely improved with each new release – batch calculations and faster run times are two improvements that have made a big difference for us. With the latest release there’s the ability to store several sets of traffic speeds for a road network for different times of day, which will definitely be useful in the future.”