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 270.

    "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."

    So how about trying to make drivers' lives easier rather than persecuting them with high taxes, poor roads, and wasting money on HS2?

  • rate this

    Comment number 269.

    It's the obvious choice.

    I once tried public transport- it cost me £37 return, took 4hrs & I had my face slashed open by a schoolkid the Police said was just 'boisterous'. With the car, it's only 20mins & costs about £3 petrol.

  • rate this

    Comment number 268.

    I don't drive but if I could I can see why people do. Driving is often cheaper than the train and quicker. The bus may be cheaper but is generally very slow. By car you can arrive and leave when you want. Many offices are not conviniently located for the train/bus (thankfully mine is). Many people don't live close enough to work to walk/cycle. Commuting East-West is almost impossible by train.

  • Comment number 267.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 266.

    Road transport & personal cars, are a vital part of UK economy, so is the waste & emissions.

    We are also really slow to introduce electric charge points up & down the country for electric cars, the more people change to electric, less tax income from petrol/diesel. Eventually, electric cars will be heavily taxed, once/if they become dominent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 265.

    WHy should this be a surprise, when more and more money is spent on making life easier for car users and less and less on other forms of transport? Bypasses, dual carriageways and flyovers proliferate, and it gets more and more difficult to get past them unless you're in a car.

  • rate this

    Comment number 264.

    It's no where near efficient in Manchester and the bus prices have risen alot over the past year and metro link has always been a rip off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 263.

    Public transport works fine if you work either in a town centre, along a direct bus route or rail line, don't work unsociable hours, and are prepared to stand for a lot of the journey. Cycling is good if you have a suicide wish whilst sharing the road with buses, cars HGVs etc
    Given all these advantages and many more I do not have space to define I wonder why people still use cars?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    255 Ray. Completely see your point. From my personal experience public transport is only efficient in London and maybe Manchester. Even then it is far too expensive for many. But doesn't this just beg the question as to the ridiculous point the 'free market' and our economic system has taken us?

  • rate this

    Comment number 261.

    Well, going by the comments here today I think we can all agree the privatisation of our transport infrastructure (particularly mainline trains) has been a roaring success. Pha!

    I'm off home... on my scooter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 260.

    I used to commute a round trip of 100 miles a day to work, it would have been a non-starter by public transport. With our increasingly flexible workforce, people cannot be expected to move house everytime they change jobs and public transport cannot be expected to fit the bill for many people. It is also ludicrously poor value. No wonder many people stick to the car.

  • rate this

    Comment number 259.

    Public transport might work in London for some, but for most of us it doesn't. Why not? Its more expensive and much more time consuming than driving, and time is not a thing we have to waste these days. People who think HS2 is a good idea are the ones who own construction companies who will benefit from it - no-one else will.

  • rate this

    Comment number 258.

    Car drivers. Dirty smelly commuters. If only the government would enact a law for car fumes to be vented through the inside of the car then perhaps drivers will understand just how antisocial they are. Why should those responsible types who don't drive have to suffer for the laziness of drivers who make any excuse for continuing their lifestyle choice. Also limit car commutes to less than 10 miles

  • rate this

    Comment number 257.

    I cannot afford to use public transport either financially or in terms of time.

    Public transport is a joke and reserve of those who have either plenty of time or plenty of money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    4 Hours ago

    same old debate,
    If you work in London you have zero choice but to use the overpriced trains,


    Not always the case. I scoot (motor, not a child one) to work. I always get a seat, I'm never late, and it's cheap. Very cheap.

    It's also 20 mins quicker than the tube.

  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    @246 - I chose to live in London so my partner can follow her career after University, would you rather her work in a coffee shop up North?

    Ridiculous point - you cant chose your job and London is too expensive to live inside of so it has to be the outskirts because the trains are cheaper than excessive rents but its still takes a huge amount of your wage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    Which just goes to show how much we don't need HS2

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    I can't drive. I live 11 miles from the nearest city (Chelmsford, Essex (more like London these days)) and 16 miles from the nearest big town (Colchester, Essex).

    It takes me 90 minutes, by public transport (1 bus + 1 train or 2 buses) to get to either of the above on a good day.

    Try telling an employer this and see how far you get - what chance have non-drivers in the UK got? None!

  • rate this

    Comment number 252.

    Public transport isn't run for the public's sake , where's the bus 6am Christmas morning or New years day when lots of us have to work, cars are the only answer until transport is made to fit in with the public's needs. My car runs when I want it to, doesn't get cancelled due to leaves on the road, is clean inside, safe and I don't have to wait at a lonely bus stop late at night

  • rate this

    Comment number 251.

    @246 - "Too many people elect to live miles from their place of work and reality is eventually catching up with them."

    So, if you can't afford to live in London or the main city where you work, what do propose?


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