The travel survey carried out recently by Transition Town Wellington has revealed important insights into how people travel and how they think travel and transport in the area could be improved.
There were over 250 responses to the survey which was carried out online, as well as through employers in the town, between February and April. It found that 55 per cent of all respondents rely mostly (or solely) on their car for getting around and a further 23 per cent drive quite a lot. However, there are indications that many motorists use their car because there are no practical or affordable alternatives. The most common reason cited for travelling was to get to/from work.
Only 5 per cent said they relied on public transport as their main means of getting around. Reasons given for not using public transport included the limited hours that buses are available (not early enough in the morning for some going to work and not late enough for an evening out), no service available within a reasonable distance of home/destination (especially for those living in local villages), the high cost of fares and the fact that bus services are thought to be unreliable. Almost a quarter of respondents said that a railway station in Wellington would make a big difference – in fact, some expressed disbelief that the town does not have a direct rail link. In the absence of a local railway station there were calls for direct bus links to Tiverton Parkway or Taunton railway stations.
A surprising finding was that a large number of regular journeys are made between the Wellington area and places in Devon – such as Exeter, Cullompton and Tiverton. As there are only very limited public transport connections from Somerset, people usually have no choice but to use a car to make these journeys.
Less surprising were the comments about traffic congestion. A third of those completing the survey called for better traffic management in the town and/or the completion of the Northern Relief Road. Being delayed at the Longforth Road / High Street traffic lights was the single most common complaint.
The survey also shows there is support for better walking and cycling networks. Over 30 per cent said that walking is their main way of getting around, with a further 25 per cent saying they would walk (or cycle) more if there were safe, designated cycle routes or footpaths. The A38 between Wellington and Taunton was most frequently cited as not being a safe cycle route.
Simon Ratsey from TTW said: “We believe the survey represents a meaningful sample of Wellington residents, and would like to thank all of those who took part. Some of the results were to be expected – as so many people feel they have no alternative but to drive, it is not surprising that our roads are congested. What is perhaps surprising is the number of motorists who already walk or cycle as much as they can and would drive less if other options were available. We hope our local politicians will take note of our survey results – it’s clear that action is needed”.
Transition Town Wellington is part of a local transport campaign group, the Campaign for Sustainable Transport in the Taunton Area (CaSTTA), which is pressing for improvements to transport and travel in the area. CasTTA has asked all those standing for election in the Somerset County Council elections on 4 May for their views on sustainable transport.
• More information about the survey is available at ttw.org.uk/transport-campaign. If you would like to get involved in CaSTTA, please email email@example.com.