Car and the commute

Six out of ten workers rely on car to get to 'the office'

02 Dec 2013

A record number of people are now reliant on a car or van to go to work with dependence high even in urban areas.

16.7 million workers in England and Wales get to ‘the office’ either by driving themselves or catching a lift. This is 62.7% of employed people aged 16-74.

Reliance is greatest in Wales where 74.2% of those in work use a car or van.

After Wales comes the East Midlands (71.7%) and then the West Midlands (71.1%). The full regional split is in the table below.

Even in London 29.8% of working residents commute by car or van ahead of the underground (22.6%), buses (14%) and trains (13.3%).

The average length of a commuter trip by car/van varies little across English regions and Wales at about ten miles. It is highest in the South East (11.2 miles) and lowest in London (8.6 miles).

While almost three-quarters (73.4%) of rural workers in England and Wales now journey to work by car or van, these methods of travel also dominate the commute in urban areas (outside of London) with 67.1% of people either driving themselves or catching a lift.

The numbers are revealed in an RAC Foundation report called The Car and the Commute. The research takes journey to work data from the 2011 Census and compares it to land use information to give a detailed picture of car dependency across England and Wales. It also uses National Travel Survey data.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“When it comes to commuting there’s life inside the M25 and life outside it. In the capital public transport is a real alternative to the car as a method of getting to work. But take London out of the equation and the level of car dependency in England and Wales is huge, not just in rural areas but also urban ones.

“The coalition government has rightly prioritised efforts to get the nation working, but Westminster politicians must remember how the nation actually travels to work. People are still driving despite a decade in which the cost of running a car has outstripped wage inflation. The reason for this is that most people have no practical choice.

“800,000 of the poorest car-owning households already spend more than a quarter of their disposable income on buying and running a vehicle. The danger is that people will be put off from taking up employment because they just can’t afford the commute.

“Transport poverty is a real threat to the economy and there needs to be renewed justification from ministers as to why such an essential product as road fuel is taxed at 60%.”

Modal split of journeys to work in England and Wales by those in employment aged 16-74:

 

Car/Van

(Driver&

Passenger)

16-74 year olds

getting to work by 

Car/van

Work mainly at

or from home

Underground,

metro,

light rail, tram

Train

Bus, minibus

or coach

Taxi

Motorcycle,

scooter

or moped

Driving car

or van

Passenger in

car or van

Bicycle

 On foot

Other

East Midlands

71.7%

1,538,501

5.1%

0.3%

1.3%

6.2%

0.4%

0.7%

65.6%

6.0%

2.7%

11.0%

0.5%

East of England

66.7%

1,901,424

5.7%

1.2%

7.2%

3.7%

0.5%

0.8%

61.7%

5.0%

3.5%

10.1%

0.6%

London

29.8%

1,190,485

5.1%

22.6%

13.3%

14.0%

0.5%

1.1%

28.0%

1.7%

4.0%

8.8%

0.7%

North East

68.7%

791,985

3.7%

2.5%

1.2%

9.3%

0.8%

0.45

61.7%

7.0%

1.8%

10.6%

0.9%

North West

68.7%

2,218,306

4.5%

0.6%

2.8%

8.3%

0.8%

0.6%

62.6%

6.1%

2.2%

10.9%

0.6%

South East

65.5%

2,791,087

6.6%

0.4%

7.3%

4.5%

0.4%

0.9%

60.8%

4.7%

3.0%

10.9%

0.7%

South West

67.5%

1,728,185

7.0%

0.1%

1.5%

4.7%

0.3%

1.1%

62.3%

5.2%

3.5%

13.6%

0.7%

West Midlands

71.1%

1,804,586

4.8%

0.3%

2.5%

7.7%

0.5%

0.6%

65.0%

6.1%

2.0%

9.9%

0.5%

Yorkshire and The Humber

67.8%

1,645,876

4.6%

0.4%

2.4%

8.5%

0.7%

0.7%

61.4%

6.4%

2.6%

11.8%

0.6%

England

62.0%

15,610,435

5.4%

4.1%

5.3%

7.5%

0.5%

0.8%

57.0%

5.0%

3.0%

10.7%

0.6%

Wales

74.2%

1,011,372

5.4%

0.1%

2.0%

4.6%

0.5%

0.6%

67.4%

6.8%

1.4%

10.6%

0.6%

England & Wales

62.7%

16,621,807

5.4%

3.9%

5.2%

7.3%

0.5%

0.8%

57.5%

5.1%

2.9%

10.7%

0.6%

ENDS

Contacts:

RAC Foundation:

Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications

Philip.gomm@racfoundation.org | 020 7747 3445 | 020 7389 0601 (ISDN) | 07711 776448

Notes to editors:

The RAC Foundation is a transport policy and research organisation that explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and their users. The Foundation publishes independent and authoritative research with which it promotes informed debate and advocates policy in the interest of the responsible motorist.

The RAC Foundation is a registered charity, number 1002705.

The report can be downloaded under embargo here:

http://www.racfoundation.org/assets/rac_foundation/content/downloadables/car-and-the-commute-web-version.pdf

A full list of the modal split for the journey to work broken down by English and Welsh local authorities, and English regions and Wales is available here:

http://www.racfoundation.org/assets/rac_foundation/content/downloadables/car-and-the-commute-data-tables-by-region-and-local-authority.pdf

An interactive map of the journey to work by local authorities in England and Wales can be found here:

https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?q=select+col4%3E%3E1+from+1yZR0yX8Z4FxLLRqNC6aUEJ2_UDzePJYuPo4WQho&viz=MAP&h=false&lat=53&lng=-1&t=1&z=7&l=col4%3E%3E1&y=2&tmplt=2&hml=KML

An interactive map of the journey to work by parliamentary constituency in England and Wales can be found here:

https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?q=select+col2%3E%3E1+from+146npbu9pp789jZwzvk_wDCllOq3ATNEcYpIfeiU&viz=MAP&h=false&lat=53&lng=-1&t=1&z=7&l=col2%3E%3E1&y=2&tmplt=2&hml=KML

Details of all the Foundation’s work can be found at www.racfoundation.org

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