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 390.

    Boro Jonesy
    The UK can't afford to prop itself up on Utopian ideas that it cannot possibly carry through. Green issues just DO NOT matter in this current economic climate. Get used to that or starve!"

    Meanwhile Cameron is off begging to BY FAR the worlds greatest polluter which makes ANY Green efforts in the UK a complete waste of time - but he's too big a conman and coward to admit it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 389.

    I bike it to work every day across the Tay Bridge.

    Dundee City council charges about £6 to park for a day. That's 30 a week !

    Last time I parked there, I had paid for my ticket but still got a fine for accidentally reversing into a disabled bay.

    NCP fined me whilst I went to get change for the meter with a ZERO time lag on the ticket between them arriving and slapping on the ticket.

  • rate this

    Comment number 388.

    I always use public transport because I live in London where there is a good service, but it is not surprising that people who live out of town have to drive. If the service could be made more comprehensive & frequent I have no doubt that people would give up their cars. It is not rocket science.

  • rate this

    Comment number 387.

    Draw a circle with a radius of ten miles (the distance an inexperienced cyclist might cover in one hour) and that circle encompasses 314 square miles' worth of jobs.

    Cycling isn't as dangerous as you think (only one death per 20 million miles in the UK), and cyclists have more disposable income, live 8 years longer on average, and are more attractive to the opposite sex.

  • rate this

    Comment number 386.

    Time is money.
    Getting to work in comfort, speedily and cheaply.

    Try walking from Brighton to London return every weekday.
    It is too far, too tiring and you would not be fit for work.

    !5 mins walk to work is fine if the distance is short.
    Waiting for busses that do not turn up or have unwelcome rowdies onboard.
    Bike it in 8 miles each way but watch out for traffic and attrocious weather!?

  • rate this

    Comment number 385.

    I work from home & drive over 200 miles/wk for the fun of it, simply because I love driving!

  • rate this

    Comment number 384.

    I seem to have been voted down for comment 378. But the news about the energy bill decreases on government's concession that we can't afford the green levies just reinforce what I say.

    The UK can't afford to prop itself up on Utopian ideas that it cannot possibly carry through. Green issues just DO NOT matter in this current economic climate. Get used to that or starve!

  • Comment number 383.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 382.

    driving is more convenient simple as, trains/tube overcrowded overpriced mind you at least on the trains you don't get a******e cyclists weaving in front of you with no helmet and headphones on

  • rate this

    Comment number 381.

    Public transport is a public service, it is not supposed to make a profit. I have returned from living in Germany, where public transport receives good investment & is subsidised to make it reasonably priced & is truly integrated & consequently well used. I'm now living in Worcester where the local council plans to cut £3m of funding, which on 1 bus line provides 300k of individual journeys.

  • rate this

    Comment number 380.

    I commute by bicycle & train. I cycle around 10 miles a day and it turns the journey to work from the worst part of the day to one of the best.

  • rate this

    Comment number 379.

    I really have no complaints, drive the three miles to the station, catch the train and walk the last little bit. Been doing it for around 30 years, I'm used to it, it's no problem. I could do it for another 30 years no problem, whats the big deal? The trains are not that bad, getting better every year, whats the big deal?

  • rate this

    Comment number 378.

    We're not a third world economy, of course we drive cars to work!! Instead of all this nonsense about being greener we ought to focus on making big fat profits and let other countries worry about environmental issues....and pay for them!

    Let's see China, India et al all line up to give up their growth to protect the planet before we bother our little selves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 377.

    I gave up my car last year.
    I cycle instead, and occasionally use a community car share scheme.
    Quicker than the bus too.
    I save 4k net a year.
    So I can now afford to work a 4 day week.
    So I have time for an allotment.
    So I save money on food too.
    I feel healthier, stronger, happier, more relaxed.
    I see more of my wife.
    My sex life is better.
    Might even live longer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 376.

    'No S#$t sherlock'?


    Full control of vehicle, full control of the entertainment, full control of the temperature and seating position (EI: Comfort), full control of departure times, full control of route, to-the-house arrival, any day useage (ETC) - I don't get a single one of those even if I paid for the ridiculously overpriced first-class train tickets.

    Why was this article even written?

  • rate this

    Comment number 375.

    "373.Wideboy "
    I now work at Tesco. There are loads of good jobs :-) Used to work in public sector; Loads of stupid managers. Private sector is much better. Public sector full of incompetent managers; and HR spend their time supporting incompetent managers; even if they are bullies. HR are useless people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 374.

    Retired so I no longer commute to work but agree with the sentiments of all those who highlight the time and cost considerations of using 'public transport'. To those who comment 'statement of the obvious', yes you are right, but sometimes our capital centric politicians need reminding of the obvious. Maybe we should all be lobbying our MPs, councillors to read and digest this report.

  • rate this

    Comment number 373.

    370. mainsail67
    The Elite in London have got the rest of us scrabbling about, around the country to keep them rich. When will middle class people wake up and then stand up to them? Half your salary to commute to London? Are you stupid?

    Stand up to them and you will soon find a "management reshuffle" and find yourself redundant . Get a union and same will still happen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    Retired now but when I worked by car the trip of 18 miles one way took 40 minutes, meant getting up a little earlier, cost around £6.71 excluding wear and tear, was warm, direct and flexible.
    Same base, by foot to station, train into the city followed by a bus and a 5 minute walk to the office took 1 hour 20 minutes, could be cold, wet, noisy, cramped, rude schoolkids & £8.20.
    Car? Of course.

  • rate this

    Comment number 371.

    368. Anglo Scot
    How ridiculous to suggest we should live near our work Does this mean you can never change jobs or that you have to uproot your family just because you take a new job 30 miles in the opposite direction from the old one?

    True what happens if your partner works in a different town and there aren't jobs with your skill set in your town. not everyone is an accountant or a sectary


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