Where can I get a bus?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Scottish Government publishes data on bus accessibility. This blog looks at the latest data, which is for 2019, broken down by urban rural classification and by deprivation. It also provides an interactive tool which allows you to explore the data by Scottish Parliamentary constituency. We hope users find the interactive tool useful, and would welcome any feedback via email to spice@parliament.scot.

About the data

The Scottish Access to Bus Indicator (SABI) gives a score for the accessibility of bus services in each data zone (around 7,000 small areas in Scotland with roughly equal populations) and provides an objective measure of accessibility to public transport by bus in Scotland. This score is worked out by finding all the bus stops within 400 metres of the of the centre point of each 2011 Census Output Area, which are made up of at least 50 people and 20 households. Then they work out the average number of buses per hour within each area.

The indicator provides separate scores for weekday and weekend services. The output areas are aggregated to data zones using a population weighted average. The data zones are then ordered from least to most accessible by:

  • quintile, where the data is split into five parts of equal size
  • decile, where the data is split into ten parts of equal size.

Where are bus services most accessible?

Unsurprisingly the data shows that urban areas have better access to bus services. We have looked at the median (the middle value of a data set), Scottish Access to Bus Indicator for each of the urban rural classifications. We have used this rather than the mean, which is the total of the data points added up, then divided by the number of data points.  This is because large urban areas have high scores, like Central Station in Glasgow which has a score of 424, which would affect the average if we used the mean. Large urban rural areas have, by far, the highest median score at 30.76, with other urban areas around half that at 14.80. The median score for very remote rural areas is 0.63.

One interesting point from this data is that very remote rural towns have a higher weekday median score than remote small towns. Very remote rural towns includes places like Oban, Rothesay, Stornoway, Kirkwall, and Lerwick, which are transport hubs which link up with ferry services. While remote small towns include places like Crieff, Banff and Kirkcudbright which are serviced by bus services rather than being a transport hub. However, remote small town have a higher weekend median score.

Two horizontal bar charts showing the median Scottish Access to Bus Indicator by urban rural classification for weekdays and weekends. Median scores are higher for weekdays and for urban areas.

How does bus accessibility change by level of deprivation?

As the data is aggregated to data zones we can look at services by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) decile. The SIMD splits Scotland into 6,976 small areas known as “data zones”. These are then ranked using data relating to around 30 indicators, which help measure different aspects of deprivation. Rankings give us an understanding of where each area in Scotland sits in terms of deprivation. We have explored the latest SIMD release in a previous blog SIMD 2020: the where of deprivation.

Looking at the median score for the overall SIMD deciles, it shows that the more deprived deciles have higher scores, which means they have better access to bus services. However, it is worth noting that due to the way the SIMD is calculated the most deprived areas in Scotland tend to be concentrated in urban areas, which as we have already seen have much better access to bus services. The majority of the data zones in the 30% most deprived and the 10% least deprived areas are in urban areas.

Two horizontal bar charts showing the median Scottish Access to Bus Indicator by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation for weekdays and weekends. Median scores are higher for weekdays and for more deprived areas.

What is access to bus service like in my constituency?

While the median score gives a useful overview of breakdowns by larger areas it doesn’t show where there may be clustering of scores. The following tool allows you to explore what bus services are like within each Scottish Parliamentary constituency. Each constituency is broken down into data zones based on the Scottish Government’s data zone lookup information.

How to use the tool:

You can drill down into the data in several ways:

  • Select a region – This allows you to select a Scottish Parliamentary region. Please note that if no region is selected the map appears blank.
  • Select a constituency – This allows you to narrow down your selection to constituencies in the selected region. If no constituency is selected, you see the data for the selected region.
  • It is important to note that data zones do not match exactly with constituencies, so some may not look correct on the map.
  • Select analysis – This allows you to select between two analysis of the data
    • Decile: this shows which decile the score sits in for the whole country. 1 = Most deprived and 10 = Least deprived.
  • Select time of the week – This allows you to see the scores for each data zone for weekdays or the weekend.

Along with the map, there is a bar chart which shows the value of the selected analysis for each data zone within the select area.

Andrew Aiton, Data Visualisation Manager

Cover image: “17013 (531) 05-09-2005 CityLink (Rapson) Volvo B10M-62 T131 AST (fleet No 644) with Caledonian MacBrayne’s Ferry Isle of Lewis at the ferry terminal at Ullapool, Scotland, United Kingdom.” by express000 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0