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Audience travel issues revealed

4th August 2016

NGCV has had its best ever response to our annual audience travel survey with 16, 204 people responding to our fourth survey in July 2016.

We undertake the online survey to find out how people travel to our venues and the level of sustainable travel, where they travelled from, whether they could have used alternative transport, what would encourage them to walk, cycle or use public transport and what travel information they used, if any.

Philip Bernays, Chief Executive of Newcastle Theatre Royal and City Hall, as well as NGCV's Green Campaign Champion, said, “We are overwhelmed with the positive response this year.  This enables our organisations to consider our own responses, based on what audience members tell us about their travel experiences and think about whether we can do anything to address any challenges or issues audiences may have.  It makes us more responsible organisations.” 

Promoting sustainable travel has been a priority for NGCV and our Green Campaign since 2011. We developed an audience travel survey in 2012 based on national best practice and with the support of Julie’s Bicycle, a not-for-profit organisation working with the arts and creative industries to make environmental sustainability a core component of their business.

All of our members send out a request and a link to their own audiences and encourage them to respond to the survey in relation to their most recent visit.  The results are shared as both overall responses to all 10 organisations and 21 venues, as well as the results for individual venues. 

In terms of what impact these surveys have, individually and collectively, we have worked with Councils, Sustrans and transport providers to explore ways of promoting and facilitating walking, cycling and the use of bus and metro travel for staff and visitors to and between our venues.  We have promoted information to support walking, such as walking maps, as well as cycle paths and maps and provided bike racks. We have also taken part in campaigns, such as National Bike Week and Car Free Days. Many of us run Cycle to Work schemes for staff and collectively we ran a Green Explorer project over two years for children and their families to travel sustainably between venues. 

There has also been a sustained effort over the last 4 years to improve travel information provided online and at venues, to help audiences find the venues more easily and to promote the range of sustainable travel options available.

Where people travelled from

It is very useful to know where people are travelling from and this year, 86% of respondents had travelled from Tyne and Wear, Durham and Northumberland, within an hour’s travel time.  Of the respondents, 33% had travelled from within the NewcastleGateshead area and a further 22% from wider Tyne & Wear (Sunderland, North and South Tyneside).  5% of respondents were from Tees Valley and 8% from other UK regions with 0.2% from abroad.

Travel information

In this survey, 55% of respondents did not need the travel information provided by the venues and 17% did not use it, as many already know where the venues are. 16% accessed travel information via the website and 10% in the venue brochures. 

Sustainable travel

Overall 47.8% of people either walked, cycled or took the bus, metro or train to the venues, ranging from 25% of audience members to 73%, depending on the venue, but 7 of 10 organisations had 50% or more respondents travelling to their venues on public transport (bus, metro and train), walking or cycling.

51% of people said they could have travelled by bus and 22% by metro, 9% could have walked and 6% could have cycled, but they did not due to a range of reasons, in particular to venues with late closing times (such as the inability to travel at night due to timetables, concerns about safety) as well as disability issues and convenience.

In terms of what would encourage people to travel more sustainably (by train, metro, bus, walking or cycling), we had a range of responses.  These responses reflect the fact that some venues have events and activities in the evening and others are predominantly open during the day:

  •  41% said they would if it were more convenient
  • 25% if it were more affordable
  • 23% if they could save time
  • 22% said they would if there were more direct routes
  • 19% if buses and metro operated later
  • 20% said nothing would change their mode of travel for a range of reasons, including convenience, disability issues, safety and time of travel or duration.

We will continue to run audience travel surveys to increase our understanding of how audiences travel to our venues and what their needs and issues are and  use the information to inform how we support sustainable travel.