Extreme Commuting

Ep 1/1

Friday 27 December



The word 'commuter' was coined in the United States during the early days of rail travel, when reduced or 'commuted' fares were made available to people travelling from outlying areas to work in cities.

This programme tells the story of the modern-day extreme commuters - people who spend more than 3 hours a day travelling to and from work. For some, there is no option but to go where the work is, for others it's a lifestyle choice.

Marcus has chosen to live in deepest Suffolk so his children can have a rural childhood. This means his journey to work can take him anywhere between two and a half to three hours, a total of up to six hours a day travelling. It's early days, but he thinks this long journey - involving two trains and a 25-minute walk - is worthwhile. Not only worthwhile, but it buys him some vital space, and enables him to make the transition from the slower pace of rural life to the whirr of central London.

Meanwhile James's two-and-a-half-hour door-to-door commute isn't something he particularly wants to do. Where he lives in Wiltshire has seen a lot of industry moving out of town, so James has had to travel to where the work is, meaning a daily commute that amounts to five hours.

Lizzie Crowley of The Work Foundation told the programme of a recent survey by recruitment organisation Randstad. This found that, while the recession has led to an overall drop in the number of people commuting, there has been an increase of 50 per cent in the amount of 'extreme commuters'. UK wide, 3 per cent of commuters do this, but that leaps to 16 per cent in the London area. This is a trend that is set to continue.

Producer/ Karen Gregor for the BBC

BBC Radio 4 Publicity