Transport disadvantage in rural Northern Ireland
The aim of this research is to address the situation of transport disadvantage in
Northern Ireland. The link. between transport disadvantage and social exclusion,
namely the ability to access goods and services is a key public policy concern. Work
in England and Scotland has identified the extent of the problem and some of the key
patterns (DE~ 2000; Hine and Mitchell, 2001, 2003; Social Exclusion Unit, 2003).
To date, limited research has been undertaken on this relationship in Northern Ireland.
In 2000 the General Conswner Council (GCCNI) produced a short discussion
document on transport disadvantage. This is problematic given the statements of
concern in national transport strategy and planning docwnents (DRDNI, 1998, 2002).
By and large, the relationship between transport and social exclusion is little
understood by local authorities who are struggling to target resources at the problem
(DETR, 1998). There is a clear need, therefore, to identify patterns of transport need.
For the purposes of this thesis four case study areas at electoral ward level were
selected. Focus group meetings and in-depth individual interviews within the rural
community were carried out to explore the linkages between transport provision and
lifestyle decisions. These were followed up by a target sample of 200 household
surveys in each ward area, 200 secondary school surveys and 120 travel diary
completions. The travel diaries have only been used in a supplementary capacity due
to problems associated with incomplete returns.
The key to detennining levels of transport disadvantage in the four case studies
surrounded the link with gender, age group, level of household income and socioeconomic
In this study, differences in travel experiences by gender were found to be minimal.
Many females have access to a private car and are, thus accessing facilities, goods and
services relatively easily. The issue of age group was found to be a more significant
variable. While gender is not an issue, both males and females in the 25 to 59 age
groups are the only groups who do not suffer in any way from transport disadvantage.
lbis is due to the fact that the vast majority of respondents here are employed, own
their own cars and are on relatively good household incomes. When younger and older
respondents are considered, problems become more evident. The data presented shows
that these groups are less likely to be able to drive or to have access to a private car,
other than by relying on someone to give them lifts. These groups are also more liable
to be on lower income levels resulting in less ability to buy and maintain their own
transport, thus relying on public transport to meet their needs, something which proves
problematic in the rural context.