Cars 'still dominate commute to work'

Cars on a motorway during the evening Seven out of 10 people in rural areas get to work by car rather than the train or bus, the RAC claimed

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The vast majority of people in England and Wales still commute to work by car, according to a new report.

The RAC Foundation report crunched the numbers from the last census in 2011 and the National Travel Survey.

It said six in 10 commuters either drive or grab a lift in a car or a van - 16.7 million people - which rises to more than seven in 10 when you single out rural areas.

The second most popular journey is by foot, with almost 2.9 million walking.

Catching the bus or coach is third, followed by the train, and then the underground, tram, or metro. Cycling sits below that, with 762,334 people biking to the office.

"The astonishing thing is the level of car reliance amongst urban workers, not just those who live in rural areas," said Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation.

There are a few little shocks buried inside this report though, which make for fascinating reading.

People on bikes Only about 4% of people use bikes to get to work

London, for example, has a congestion charge, terrible parking and pretty good public transport, but the car remains the most popular way to commute.

Nearly a third of workers rely on a car or van to get in. The tube does come in a close second, with more than fifth of workers using the underground. Then comes the bus and the train, followed by walking, and cycling (around 4% get on their bike).

More than twice as many people walk than cycle.

There's a nice breakdown of the local authority areas where most people drive to work too. And a word of advice: if you sell cars for a living, open a showroom in Wales, where nearly three-quarters of workers use a car or van to commute. Blaenau Gwent tops the charts, with more than eight in every 10 workers in the area driving in.

The areas with the fewest number of people driving to the office are all in London - the boroughs of City of London, Islington, Westminster and Camden.

A motorway in the South West of England The cost of motoring is still on the up, says the RAC Foundation

Being the RAC Foundation, there is a heavy emphasis on the cost of motoring.

It highlights just how expensive driving has become, with the price of fuel and oil going up twice as fast as the cost of living over the past decade. It says that 800,000 of the poorest car-owning households spend more than a quarter of their disposable income on buying and running a car.

"The coalition government has rightly prioritised efforts to get the nation working, but it has to remember how the nation actually travels to work," Mr Glaister said.

"People are still driving despite a decade in which the cost of running a car has outstripped wage inflation. Transport poverty is a real threat to the economy. There would be uproar if domestic heating was taxed at 60%, so why is it acceptable for road fuel to attract such high taxation?"

So the message from all this then?

Despite all the talk of HS2 high-speed trains and bikes and working from home, most people drive to work. And that's not going to change any time soon.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    If you live near a bus stop and don't mind sitting on a urine-soaked seat surrounded by ne'er-do-wells and drunks, then by all means take the bus. If you prefer your own company with the convenience of being able to carry large/heavy items at flexible times, then use your car.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    they've spent 50-odd years building society around the car - why is the scale of car use a surprise?

    Incidentally most car journeys/commute aren't a straightforward A to B and return, but often involve C, D and sometimes E. Try doing that by bus...

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Some mindless moron in Whitehall thinks we should all be 'economic' fodder' without lives & families so they conceived a mobile labour force, easily hired & fired but forget the cost & difficulties with housing etc. We need the EU rules applied here, never mind what the Mail & Express say. Opt in not out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    I commute the 25 miles between Bristol and Trowbridge everyday. By car it takes between 1 hr or 1 hr 30. Using the bike route through Bath If ound it takes 1hr 10 mins every time. That is a no brainer. Free and Quick v expensive time spent sitting in traffic.

    By the way, I weigh 15 stone, I am no Bradley Wiggins.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    I consider myself very lucky to be able to walk to work: as a single person with a stable job, I was able to make a home within a mile of the office.

    For most people, the vagaries of the job market, coupled with an inflexible property market, mean that just isn't possible, especially where the two halves of a couple have jobs in different towns.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Public transport ?

    Hardly. These are private companies whose sole interest is profit.

    I'd rather sit in the comfort of my own car controlling my own journey than put up with travelling by our over-priced and wretched "public" transport.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Most people do not live within walking distance of where they work, We the workers have to go where there is work and that means most of the time we have to drive. Public transport outside big cities is woeful and expensive, it just does not go where you want it to go. In an ideal world we would all use public transport or walk, but unfortunately we do not live in an ideal world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    I have no choice but to commute by car. It's a 25 mile drive (each way) that sees me leaving the house before 07:00. If I had to use public transport I'd be doing nearly twice the distance and I'd have to leave the house just after 05:00. It's simply not a relasitic option for people who don't live in a ghetto... sorry, city...

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    It just goes to prove that high fuel duty and all the green levies you can put upon the poor motorists aren't enough to deter people out of their cars. Reduce fuel duty now and help these people!

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Public transport only works if the bus/train etc goes from your home to your work. Very rare. As soon as you need 2 buses etc, it becomes hopelessly expensive, slow and unreliable. I tried the bus and train a couple of years ago. The journey time was 2 hours and I failed to get all the way home 2 out of 3 nights.
    I used my car on day 4. Travel time 1 hour.
    Lesson learned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    I used to cycle to work every day but the company redesigned the office and there was nowhere to put my cycling clothes to dry out during the day.
    I've since changed jobs and have to attend different sites at short notice, so only a car will do it. I'd love to go back to using the bike, it was the only exercise I got (30 mins each way, vigorous pedalling) and so much cheaper than the car.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Its the obvious choice. When commuting to university I took my car & could come & go as I pleased. Contrast to that, the bus required that I get up an hour earlier for a 9am lecture, got me in 30 minutes early & involved a change of busses half-way through the trip.
    And all that for slightly more than the cost of the petrol my car used.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Perhaps governments might now actually help their voters enjoy their preferred mode of transport.

    Rather than pander to the noisy but small green zealots and waste £billions on high speed trains that few will use.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    my partner doenst drive - to get to work he has to leave at 5am...take 2 buses and gets to work for 7am! Providing the bus turns up! So 2 hours travelling £4 a day (£24 a week) ..............i drive and if im able to drop him to work (hols ect) it takes half an hour in traffic and costs £10 a week!! loool no contest. Its called public transport ripoff and public are not falling for it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    For £16.90 I can use the ferry to cycle to my work. I can't drive so what other option do I have for low cost travel

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    This is not news to anyone outside of London.

    Getting a bit irritated with the Capital being treated as if it is anything like the rest of the country and used as a model for every analysis, report and survey.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    Train costs are completely prohibitive, and only heading more towards the rich mans play thing. A season ticket for the year is thousands. They're crowded, smelly, old, late and require a bus to get to and back that is crowded, smelly, old, & late

    I could pay half that, drive my car, which is warm, comfortable, and never late. My taxes still subsidise the farce that is public transport though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    I would love to cycle to work; I even looked into the cycle to work scheme as I live a reasonable 12 miles from work. What put's me off is watching the crazy way people drive their cars during rush hour and I feel I'd be wrong in risking my life especially when I have two children under 3 who are dependant on me. If they sort out the road safety for cyclist, I would change my mind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    I can't find a job because of the public transport in my area. I have a Driving license but can't afford a car.I live in a small town between Bridgend and Swansea. By car it would take 15 mins and 30 mins respectively to get there. By bus,it takes 40 mins to get to Bridgend and 1 1/2 hrs to Swansea.neither bus gets there b4 9am and costs between £5 and £7 daily. Most jobs start at or before 9am.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    We are being priced off the rails so no surprise really. Instead the government wants to waste £40BN on a single train line that no one wants. Why not use this cash to reduce rail fares to an acceptable level? Unfortunateley this would involve some joined up thinking - something woefully lacking from this and previous governments....


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