Cover: The impact of migration on transport and congestion

The impact of migration on transport and congestion

Published Jan 10, 2012

by Flavia Tsang, Charlene Rohr

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Research Question

  1. What is the likely impact of economic migrants from outside the European Economic Area on transport networks and congestion?

RAND Europe has been commissioned by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to collate evidence on how migration is likely to impact transport networks and congestion. This study was comprised of two research phases: a literature review followed by empirical analysis. Through the targeted literature review, we mapped the state of knowledge on the travel behavior of migrants (including travel frequency, mode choice, home and work location) and the associated impacts on the transport network. Almost all of the existing evidence found was from outside the UK. In the second phase, we undertook empirical analyses using UK data to provide a quantitative understanding of UK migrants' specific travel behaviour and impacts. This study informed the UK Migration Advisory Committee's (MAC's) thinking on the social impacts of migration. It provides one of the first studies using UK data to provide an empirical evidence base about migrants' travel behaviour and impacts.

Key Findings

Migrants' travel behaviour differs from natives'

  • Migrants are concentrated in metropolitan areas where public transport provision is high: e.g., London houses 40% of non-EEA migrants, versus 11% of all UK nationals.
  • Migrants’ travel is strongly associated with the use of non-car-driving modes of travel (including public transport, walking, cycling and car sharing): 54% of non-EEA migrants use these forms of travel versus 26% of UK nationals.
  • Migrants make more commuting trips but fewer total trips: 900 per migrant versus 1000 per UK national annually.
  • However, migrants tend to ‘transport assimilate’: over time, their travel behaviour becomes increasingly similar to that of UK nationals.

Migrants' travel impacts society differently

  • Migrants impose a cost on society by using the transport network, but because they tend to drive less and make fewer trips, their impact per head is lower than that of the average UK national.
  • In general, for both migrants and nationals, car use imposes a high cost on society, in the order of thousands of pounds per person per annum; public transport use makes a positive contribution -- in the form of non-government subsidised revenue to public transport providers -- in the order of tens of pounds per person per annum.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was prepared for the Migration Advisory Committee and conducted by RAND Europe.

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