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 150.

    134 Peter-Sym
    The UK has the lowest level of railway electrification in Western Europe and virtually no electric street traction. Other countries use electric trams, trolleybuses and even battery vehicles (and don't generate the electricity from fossil fuels either). My point is that the UK could/should do this too. The cost of HS2 alone would go a long way to improving conventional railways.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    I know people who have been told by Job Centre to use buses to expand choice of jobs. One friend worked out that at the end of the week he would have pocketed about one third of his salary! Transport infrastructure = useless Cost = ridiculous. HST will be for the rich! Government = clueless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    "still" using cars. Great bit of doublespeak by the treehuggers. If you check your history books you'll discover that personal transportation was a wonderful invention to free people from having to slum it with loads of other people packed into mass transport carriages. And you know what? It still is. And where it's cheaper than cattle class why is this story news?

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    Commuting by public transport works if the point of access for the journey is close by your house, and your workplace is similarly well placed at the other end. Hence in London it is well used, even with changes. The fact that commuting by car in London is a horrible painful experience is just the icing on the cake. Elsewhere, where your house and work are not conveniently located, cars win.

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    I used to work less than 20 miles from where I live. I had to take 2 buses and a train to get there and back everyday which came to about 4 hours of travelling and quite a bit of money. It was far easier and cheaper to get a car in the long run. No waiting for buses and trains and a dramatic reduction on the travel time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    I use tube as the roads are too unreliable and expensive c-charge in London.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    Thankfully, I can make my relatively short commute by train.

    Much cheaper than: learning to drive, paying for tests, buying a car, paying for insurance, paying tax, paying for petrol, paying for MOTs and other upkeep costs and renting a parking space.

    The one downside for me is that I often have to deal with other people who don't have to good grace to keep silent: I am not a morning person.

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    To travel 2 miles to work.

    Option 1. 15 minutes by car in busy traffic.

    Option 2. 90 minutes involving two buses and almost a mile walking.

    This was in East London. I used the car. Duh!

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    A car is more than just a work/social transporter.
    It is also an emergency escape vehicle.
    Look around the world, Chernobyl, Syria, Philippines wherever.

    In time of disaster (it will never happen to me, lol) you take what you can carry, see how much you can carry walking or on a bus, if available.

    Transport is vital in emergency, survival or not, or greater suffering.
    Car IS an insurance

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    It's almost impossible to make any journey by train more cheaply than a car.
    Why governments think that inflation plus fare rises will ever help is beyond reasonable logic.

    The only reason to use a train to commute is if you have no other choice!

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    what do people expect? the trains are more expensive than flights, buses are too slow.
    I bet if a new airline would fly from Gatwick to Heathrow it would be cheaper than the train.We now are told buses are being used to spy on people plus there are those little darlings that come in fing and blinding and should you dare to ask them to stop you might find yourself stabbed.
    So yes bring on the car.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    If you can't get people out of their cars, you can get them into small, fuel-efficient vehicles by, among other things, adjusting the sales tax accordingly. There should be no comparison between the sales tax on an SUV & a fuel-efficient smaller car. (Kelley Blue Book: “Gas prices have increased by $0.30 per gallon since early July.")

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.


    And everything you do is limited by the timetable and what you can carry.

    Whereas in my car I can work as required by my company and customers. I can get meals if working late. I can do the shopping on the way home. I can browse and even buy white goods. If I forget something I can go back and fetch it. If my wife is ill I can help.

    Your life is in a stranglehold.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    Train(when there is one) bus seats are tiny,and uncomfortable,unreliable ,you can't go from door to door,intolerant bigots have banned the CHOICE of smoking carriages on trains,people have no manners when eating or using electrical equipment,generally far more expensive than a car and in your car one has control over one personal space and who's in it,NO CONTEST!

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    I use my car.

    I love polluting the air that you breathe.

    And, there is 2000 points at stake, for knocking over a granny.

    Use the car? Its a no-brainer!

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    As road tax, petrol tax, VAT on new cars, car factories, etc., are a major source of government revenue it's easy to see why they don't want people to stop using cars. The UK needs a properly coordinated public transport network built to give service - not shareholder's profits - around the clock both in provincial cities and, within reason, rural areas.Inform yourself, other countries can do it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    128. davidbowler
    No surprise. The world is choking with CO2 and particulate emissions, there's no easy ticketing or connections between public transport, and everything the US does the UK copies.
    I don't get your point. The worst source of particulate emissions come from bus exhausts. With few exceptions public transport runs on diesel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    Driving or using polluting vehicles is seemingly a human right. But smoking a cigarette is a human wrong.
    I commute 43 miles each way in my car.
    My wife uses public transport for a 17 mile journey. We both take an hour to get to work.
    Public transport will only get cheaper if we outlaw expenses

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    "Going by car adds at least 25 minutes to the journey time because of traffic "

    If you are lucky enough to live within 5 minutes walk of a train station and your dstination is within five minutes walk of another station on the same line, then traveling by train can make sense. However, if either you or your destination move you are unlikely to find it remotely convenient

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    Lots of people rating cars over public transport. I live about 5 miles outside of Reading and get the train in every day. Going by car adds at least 25 minutes to the journey time because of traffic whereas the train is a nice easy 10 minute journey, which has only been disrupted on a small minority of occasions.


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