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 190.

    I commute to work 75 mile each way. By car it will cost £350 per month on fuel and with other associated cost around £400. The Journey takes 1 hour 30 mins.
    If I take the train it would cost £420 per month and the journey would take 3 hours each way. So I take the car; it is not the £20 per month I am saving, it is the 2.75 days per month I am not travelling

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    Big cities and companies in the city should look at building outside the city parking garages with better mass transit from from places of work and/or study to those areas-add capacity at rush hr

    Purchased first car after spending 45 min after dark in 19F(-7C) waiting for a bus that ran every 20 min. Buses were told to get back on schedule after rush hour by waiting at out of city last stop.

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    For me - car journey 40-60 minutes depending on traffic, public transport 45 minutes of walking 90 minutes of train, buses would take 7+ hours! Simple choice.Car also cheapest by a LONG way!

    What is not clear from the information given is how the figures reflect those vast numbers of train users who drive or are driven to the station - does this mean even more people rely on cars to get to work?

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    I much prefer the Jag, and I can pick my own colour

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    Option 1: 2 hour each way journey involving 2 buses and a substantial amount of walking.
    Monthly cost £140
    Option 2: 35-40mins each way in the car.
    Monthly cost £90 (fuel only)
    or £135 including road tax and insurance, but not repairs.
    But there is the convenience of having the car when not commuting!

    Hmm, I just don't know which i'd rather choose...

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    The car represents flexibility. It goes where you want, when you want, in comfort and safety usually far quicker, more reliably and cheaper than public transport. You don't have to risk sharing space with people who's every second word starts with 'f' and ends in 'ck' or those who are keen to share their airbourne infections.

    Why would anyone not take the car given a choice?

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    Why is this news? The majority of people prefer to take the car and a large number of those who don't have a car aspire to get one. Who would hang about waiting for a bus or train on a cold winter morning if they didn't have to? As for cycling, OK if you are a sportsman... I aint.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    I have a round trip of 80 miles to work each day, costing me approx £8.00 in diesel. It takes an hour each way.
    If I tried the same commute via public transport I would have to leave home the previous night, wait/sleep in a train station overnight and eventually make it work an hour later than by car. And it would cost twice as much.

    Sometimes the 'green' option isn't viable which is a shame.

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.


    So you realise you don't have an argument then. Commuting is just one small part of life that is little more than a lifestyle choice.

    Looking after your health, safety & family well being is paramount - you don't even have an argument.

    You cant buy your father back.

    Having a car kept my father in my life - end of story.

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    Yet another stating of the bleedin' obvious.

    We all know that trains are too expensive, bicycles are too dangerous, walking is rarely viable and if you need to use our "joined-up" transport system..well, good luck!

    Of course we're going to drive, it's the only practical solution.

    The politically correct and eco warriors need to shut up and join the real world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    Environmentalists and governments are clearly frustrated at not being able to engineer our travel preferences by ever heavier taxes. All they are achieving is increasing the cost of living and reducing national competitiveness.
    That cars are often cheaper despite huge taxes raises serious questions about trains. Add the weather, crime, convenience and comfort!
    A complete rethink is needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    Hit 40, and got myself an electric bike for a £1K. Now can do a 25 mile one way commute in around 1hr (Windsor to City of London). Costs me around 5p to 'fill up'. Train ticket used to cost nearly 3K and rose annually. and took over 1.5hrs on a good day.
    Worth exploring for those who need door-to-door but it would be too far for a regular bike (You can also carry loads without effort)

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    I live in Northants & for a time worked in Northampton itself - 10 miles from home. I didn't have access to my car for a while (4-5 days) & so used the public transport available - bus.

    Cost over £5p/d, incredibly uncomfortable (do they even have suspension?) but the real pain was the journey time (via numerous villages) of 1.5 hrs.

    Needless to say as soon as my car was available...

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    Having spent money on a car I'm not about to leave it parked at home and use anything else most of the time

    I gave up cycling other than for leisure offroad following being rear-ended by a daft car driver

    Public transport just doesnt cut the mustard

    With an aging population driving cars it makes sense to have a safety cage around you so that also points to a car

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    This survey seems to fail to understand the complexity of peoples commuting habits. For instance, I drive to the station (23miles), catch a train (30min) and then a 10 minute bus ride and a 5min walk. And I know that sort of daily journey is not at all unusual. The single mode journey is actually quite rare, for those commuting into London from outside.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    I have no choice but to commute by train and they are horrendously expensive, over crowded and more often than not they do not run to schedule. I cannot use a bus to get from my house to and from the train station because the local buses just cannot be relied upon to turn up on time so I have to use a car. If I had the option I would use the car for the entire journey.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    In an attempt to get more people out of the car and onto public transport, my local council decided to significantly increase parking charges. Within days, the local bus company, thinking that demand would increase also decided to increase their prices! Result.... empty buses and just as many cars on the road!

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    @ 158.JackMaxDaniels

    "I had to get to my father dying in pain at 3:00am in the morning do you think I waited for a train ?"

    We're actually talking about commuting here - sorry if it's confusing for you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    I have to travel 38 miles to get from home to the office. Going by car is the easiest option. My car isn't overcrowded, it goes where I want it to go, the eco diesel makes my travel cheaper and I'm mostly able to divert around possible delays.
    Public transport for commuting is out-dated. As much as they want us to think it's a good idea and use it more, it is the worst option for the majority.

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    We have motorways, roads which only motor vehicles may use. All other roads are accessible to motors. The rules have led to a complete collapse of other forms of transport, with attendant health and urban degeneration problems. Why not make non-arterial roads in built-up areas no-motorways? It would transform communities and re-invigorate local business, and we'd still have cars for long journeys.


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